Urban Smart Bellevue, a partnership between Puget Sound Energy and the City of Bellevue, has a focus of making the city smarter, more efficient, and more sustainable

Bellevue has partnered with Puget Sound Energy to make downtown buildings more efficient and cut wasted energy. Photo by Rachel Coward.

Bellevue has partnered with Puget Sound Energy to make downtown buildings more efficient and cut wasted energy. Photo by Rachel Coward.

“Businesses that want to save energy will do so,” said Emma Johnson, resource conservation manager for the City of Bellevue. The city recognizes, however, that providing a framework for encouraging and measuring energy conservation will help accelerate efforts. As Bellevue continues to build in the downtown and Spring districts, conservation will be essential to providing services without requiring additional power plants.

That is the idea behind Urban Smart Bellevue, a partnership between Puget Sound Energy and the City of Bellevue. The program began in June 2016 and now boasts 90 members in 68 buildings, well on the way to its goal of 200 members. Members include major players — Microsoft, Expedia, Sheraton Hotels — but also many small businesses.

Unlike the stringent regulations that the Seattle 2030 District imposes on new and existing buildings, Johnson said Bellevue’s approach is to “start with something more voluntary and easy to achieve.” There has been talk of putting together a more rigorous program, but for now, Bellevue is not adding regulations beyond those in existing energy codes.

Members of Urban Smart Bellevue receive an evaluation from a PSE contractor plus “tips and tools and access to data they haven’t seen before,” via tailored energy management software. Data on utility usage is entered automatically. Members can notate changes they have implemented, from installing LED lights to asking employees to use the stairs instead of the elevator, and see how they impact energy usage. “It’s a nice way to get your organization to talk about conservation,” said Johnson. The program is free to businesses and also includes workshops on best practices for energy management.

Johnson will be sharing information about Urban Smart Bellevue as part of a panel discussion at the GoGreen Conference in Seattle on March 16. The session, “Climate and Energy Best Practices to Maximize Economic and Environmental Benefit,” will include examples from both public and private sector on ways to improve the triple bottom line (profit, people, planet). Other panelists include Brian Heather, CEO of SolTerra; and Jimmy Jia, CEO of Distributed Energy Management.

The conference includes a full day of presentations, with tracks on climate and energy, green building, and equity and social justice. Online registration is available through March 15.

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