Spokane Journal of Business

Spokane-based Ecova starts energy audit service in San Francisco

Nonresidential building proprietors required to submit reviews to city

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Spokane-based energy management company Ecova Inc. has launched its energy audit and reporting service for building owners in a new location, San Francisco, says company spokeswoman Wendy Carhart.

The city of San Francisco has passed specific requirements that owners of any building exceeding 10,000 square feet of floor space must submit a confirmation of an energy audit from a qualified auditor to the city's department of energy, Carhart says.

Ecova provides the qualified energy audits for the required reviews, she says. During an energy audit, an auditor visits the building and reviews all its systems and structures, such as heating, ventilation, and air conditioning, refrigeration, entrances, and exits. The auditor then creates a report that provides the building owner with recommendations for ways to make the building more energy efficient. The law doesn't require building owners to take act on the audits, however.

More cities, Carhart says, soon could be following in San Francisco's footsteps.

"We're seeing a lot of similar regulations pop up all over the U.S.," Carhart says. "If you're a company that has buildings in a lot of cities, it can be hard to keep track, so that's what Ecova does."

Eight cities and two states have passed new legislation of that type in the past year, Carhart says. In addition to audits, many cities and states are making requirements that incorporate standards from the U.S. Department of Energy program called Energy Star.

That program, Carhart says, mainly involves the certification of energy-efficient appliances and the use of Portfolio Manager, an online software system that enables building owners to input specifications about their buildings and then gives them information about how efficient their energy use is.

So far, Carhart says, the city of Spokane hasn't passed any similar regulations. Washington state requires owners of commercial buildings with more than 10,000 square feet to disclose Portfolio Manager information to potential buyers and investors, but doesn't require disclosure to the state itself.

There's potential for the new program to create more jobs at Ecova, Carhart says. The company currently employs about 1,400 people, she says, 700 of whom are in the Spokane area. Carhart says Ecova has some employees in the San Francisco area, but also sends auditors there as needed.

"This is something we've done for a long time, but as these kinds of requirements continue to grow, there will be an increased need for this kind of service," she says.

Katie Ross
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Reporter Katie Ross covers manufacturing, hospitality, and government at the Journal of Business. An outdoor enthusiast and snowboard fanatic, Katie is a recent graduate of Gonzaga University.  

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