Earl Meldahl

Two City of Bellevue, Washington government buildings are among 118 throughout the U.S. to receive the prestigious EnergyStar award for energy efficiency.

ENERGY STAR is an international symbol of energy efficiency. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the US Department of Energy (DOE) have established ENERGY STAR criteria for commercial and K-12 school buildings. The basis of the criteria is benchmarking building energy consumption on a 1 to 100 scale. Buildings that are among the top 25 percent nationwide in terms of energy performance (earning a benchmark score of 75 or greater) and maintain an indoor environment that conforms to industry standards can qualify to receive the ENERGY STAR label for buildings.

Bellevue City Hall and the Leavitt Building are the two facilities earning the EnergyStar label. The Leavitt Building is a five story Class B office complex built in 1979. Purchased by the City of Bellevue in 1991, the facility houses private tenants, employees from six municipal departments, and the city’s traffic computer operations. During the past ten years, the building has undergone a number of improvements to its infrastructure including an award-winning structural-seismic upgrade and system improvements focusing on energy conservation.

“The City had to meet strict U.S. EPA & DOE criteria in energy use, energy costs, ventilation, IAQ, lighting and occupant comfort,” said Earl Meldahl, operations manager for the city’s facilities. Lighting fixtures were retrofitted with electronic ballasts and energy efficient lamps, lighting control systems were installed, low-volume restroom fixtures were installed, and HVAC projects focused on an energy management system and digital control upgrades. Infra-red scans of the facility also identified the need for exterior glass resealing and roof replacement with increased insulation ratings.

Puget Sound Energy (PSE), a local utility company, helped offset costs for these worthwhile projects through an energy efficiency grants program. Puget Sound Energy audits have confirmed that the past decade of conscientious energy management has been the primary reason for a steady drop in energy consumption. A proactive employee education program has also contributed to the success in conservation efforts. By applying for and obtaining the ENERGY STAR label, the City of Bellevue has shown it can operate an administrative facility efficiently and effectively while maintaining the comfort and productivity of the occupants.

Among the Bellevue operations staff providing oversight at these facilities, six are certified through the Buidling Operator Certification (BOC) program. They include Jim Wesley, Jeff Sigman and Rich Spencer, Building Maintenance Specialists; Jim Schneider and Tracy McMahan, Facilities Operations Specialists and Earl Meldahl, Operations Manager. “The BOC program certainly provided us with the knowledge necessary to achieve this award.” Meldahl estimates the improvements saved 3 million kWh of electricity per year at a cost reduction of over $180,000 annually. This is enough to power 250 homes in the Bellevue area.”

Both buildings are currently featured on the EnergyStar website at www.energystar.gov. Click on EnergyStar Labeled Buildings