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Lane gets energy efficent - The Torch
Lane gets energy efficent

Lane gets energy efficent


Solar panels help power the building’s water heating system in the LCC Downtown campus.
Photo: August Frank
Solar panels help power the building’s water heating system in the LCC Downtown campus.Photo: August Frank

Solar panels help power the building’s water heating system in the LCC Downtown campus.
Photo: August Frank

Marissa Brundige

The LCC Energy Management Program has specialized in commercial building efficiency since 1980. Now, roughly 35 years later, the program is located in what are designed to be come the most energy efficient buildings in all of academia, according to the Northwest Water and Energy Education Institute.

“There are some pretty outstanding buildings around,” LCC Energy and Water Programs Director Roger Ebbage said, “but this will top them all.” A special computer display shows how everything in the building is operating, including how motors and fans are running and whether lights are on or off.

The Lane downtown campus building features a solar-powered domestic water heating system that serves the entire facility, including the adjacent dorms. It contributes about 90 percent of the building’s hot water from around May until October and about 60 percent in the colder, cloudier months.

Ebbage explained that when discussions are coming out of the White House regarding clean energy and it’s in the news, people hear about it and become interested. “So if Barack [President Obama] is talking about clean energy, people hear that and go ‘oh wow, clean energy. Yeah, that’s a good field, I’m gonna get in it,’ and then our program just blossoms,” he said.

China and the U.S. are the world’s two biggest polluters, contributing about 45 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions. The two countries came to an agreement earlier this month on cutting greenhouse gas emissions. The U.S. is planning to cut emissions 26 to 28 percent from 2005 levels by 2025. China has announced its intent to reduce the rate of increase so that emissions will peak by 2030, and decline thereafter.  Ebbage explained that when the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change convenes in Paris next year, other countries will look at what the United States is willing to do and follow suit.

“They’re finishing a coal-fired power plant about every seven to nine days,” Ebbage said.  “And if you can imagine just exactly what that means, that is ridiculous.”

He credited Secretary of State John Kerry for saying it is ironic that China, which now produces more solar electricity and makes more solar panels than any other manufacturing country in the world, doesn’t receive the necessary sunlight to use them due to the amount of pollution in the atmosphere. Ebbage explained that he considers nuclear energy to be renewable because it doesn’t produce greenhouse gases.

The new LCC downtown campus building, containing classrooms, offices and dorms, is certified through a building sustainability rating system at the highest possible level, earning the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) designation of platinum. “I wrote and received a grant from the Federal Department of Energy for half a million dollars,” Ebbage said. “It went into this [fourth] floor specifically, this floor has all energy efficiency stuff.”

The new building was funded by the federal grant, city and state contributions, money from a bond issue and federal tax credits based on the designed levels of sustainability and efficiency.

Ebbage was on the building’s design committee from the beginning and promoted its creation enthusiastically. He mentioned that persuading other LCC staff was very easy, aided greatly by solid backing from President Mary Spilde.

“Mary is the one who drove the design of the building,” he said. “This is part of her soul. And it is actually becoming part of the soul of the college.”

In the current sustainability programs offered at LCC, students learn about water conservation, energy management (in the commercial sector), building operations, renewable energy, solar water heating and solar electric installation and design. Building operations account for approximately 40 percent of the country’s total energy consumption, and substantial efficiency gains are possible through intelligent building design.

The program includes the Institute for Sustainable Practices, a sustainability committee that meets on Wednesdays in room 226 of Building 16.