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Don't Tread on ENERGY STAR

March 23, 2017: This article from the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy spells out -- in dollar-and-cents terms that cannot be confused with tree hugging -- why the EPA's ENERGY STAR program makes too much economic sense to kill.
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Washington's residential energy codes the most efficient in the nation

February 17, 2017: Washington officially has the most efficient residential energy code in the United States, according to the latest "Status of State Energy Code Adoption" recently published by the U.S. Department of Energy. Way to go, WSU Energy Program building code specialists! read more ...

Nov. 16 Webinar: Modeling Multifamily Buildings with BEopt

November 2, 2016: Karen Janowitz is hosting an E3T webinar on ​the DOE NREL BEopt modeling tool for multifamily buildings at noon on Wednesday, November 16. Register here.

Are Building Standards Coming for Tiny Homes?

October 24, 2016: Tiny houses have supersized their moment in the spotlight and become a bona fide cultural movement. Some leaders in the construction industry feel the time is right to develop and apply building standards specifically for tiny homes to eliminate sub-par construction. As stated in, “… this proposal is already a huge step forward to further legitimizing tiny homes, potentially providing builders and homeowners with some guidelines” on how to make them safer and easier to build.

If you have something to add, there’s still time to weigh in at Proposed Tiny House Code for the 2018 IRC.


Turning Carbon Dioxide into Ethanol for Energy Storage

October 17, 2016: Scientists at Oak Ridge National Laboratory have discovered a simple chemical reaction to turn CO2 into ethanol, which is useful as a vehicle fuel. Added bonus: This process could also be used to make ethanol when excess electricity from intermittent sources is available, providing energy storage to help smooth fluctuations in a renewable energy grid. read more ...

Announcing Webinars on Three Emerging Technologies

August 31, 2016: Here's your opportunity to learn about promising technologies, practices, and knowledge-sharing strategies that BPA is considering for future research, evaluation, or deployment. 
  • HVAC in Multifamily Buildings, Sept. 14, noon to 1:15 p.m.
  • Lighting and Building Controls in Multifamily Buildings, Sept. 22, noon to 1:15 p.m.
  • Update on CO2 Heat Pump Water Heaters, Sept. 27, TBA

Register here:


Building Diagnostic Tools Available for Loan

July 27, 2016: The Smart Buildings Center (SBC) Tool Lending Library has an extensive inventory of building diagnostic tools available for loan to building operators and energy service providers in Washington.

The first step in achieving operational excellence is learning how systems in the building are actually operating. The SBC can help by loaning data loggers, power meters, lighting loggers, infrared cameras, liquid and air flow measurement devices, and much more. Users can uses these tools free of charge for prescribed time periods to capture data on system performance.

For more information or to reserve a tool, visit or contact Duane Lewellen at


Emergency Generators in Healthcare: Diesel or Natural Gas?

July 20, 2016: Congratulations to Energy Program engineer Marcia Karr, who has had another article published in Engineered Systems magazine.
Emergency Generators in Healthcare: Diesel or Natural Gas?, July 2016 

How Many Suns are in the Universe?

July 19, 2016: Our solar expert, Phil Lou, helps to answer that question in today's "Ask Dr. Universe." read more ...

Marcia Karr Shares Insights in Engineered Systems Magazine

July 7, 2016: Prolific Energy Program P.E. Marcia Karr shares her engineering insights in several articles published by Engineered Systems magazine. Read them here!

Energy Program Celebrates 20 Years!

July 1, 2016: Our office is celebrating 20 years as the WSU Energy Program. But our efforts actually started in the 1970s, when the energy crisis prompted the formation of the interim Washington State Energy Office (WSEO). Then-Governor Daniel J. Evans established the WSEO by executive order in 1975.

The state established the WSEO to coordinate energy-related policies and programs, gather energy supply data, and forecast energy use. The WSEO was also tasked with coordinating with federal energy agencies, helping to establish a citizen-based advisory committee on state energy policy, and developing contingency plans for dealing with energy shortages. The executive order transferred to the new office energy-related functions of the state departments of Emergency Services and General Administration. In 1976, WSEO duties were expanded to include “energy education, applied research, technology transfer, and energy efficiency in public buildings.”

In 1981, the state legislature broadened and clarified the agency’s scope again to include the Energy Policy Group. The legislature added to the WSEO’s responsibilities staff support for the Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council, the Washington Energy Strategy project, the Energy Partnerships program, and the Commuter Trip Reduction program.

At its peak in 1993, 179 full-time employees worked for the WSEO. Most of the Energy Office’s funding came from sources other than the state’s General Fund, including the Bonneville Power Administration and the U.S. Department of Energy. For the fiscal year beginning July 1, 1995, state funds accounted for just three percent of the WSEO’s $17 million budget.

In 1994, faced with a recession, instability in federal funding, and a state budget nearly $2 billion in the red, then-Governor Mike Lowry cut two-thirds of the WSEO’s jobs. The following year, the state legislature passed a bill that redistributed WSEO functions to other state agencies.

In June 1996, the office closed, but that did not stop the energy movement in Washington. On July 1, 1996, the WSU Energy Program was born. As part of the College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences, the WSU Energy Program helps fulfill the WSU Extension land grant mission of technology transfer. To meet customer needs, energy experts in each of its program areas develop and deliver:
  • Classroom and hands-on training
  • Technical assistance based on site assessments
  • Sophisticated analytical tools
  • In-depth research to establish best practices and influence public policy

2015 Washington State Energy Code in effect July 1, 2016

June 30, 2016: The 2015 Washington State Energy Code (WSEC) goes into effect today. Our energy code experts provide support to those who use the residential sections of the WSEC; email or call the WSEC Residential Code Hotline at 360-956-2042. You can also visit the Washington State Building Code Council website for updates. 

Anaerobic Digester Could Bolster Economic and Environmental Goals

May 19, 2016: Have you sidestepped Interstate 5 in southern Thurston County to get a closer look at our local dairy farms, creameries, wineries, nurseries, and organic vegetable farms along the “Bountiful Byway”? If so, you know firsthand that a notable feature of rural excursions on sunny days is odor, especially when dairy producers spread manure as fertilizer.

Our alternative fuels specialist, Jim Jensen, is working with stakeholders to evaluate how a community anaerobic digester could use manure, food waste, and other organic wastes to address this odor issue and produce renewable energy, biofertilizers, and other marketable products. The Phase 1 report just released lays the foundation for building a community digester to advance rural Thurston County’s economic and environmental goals. read more ...

Researching Energy Information

April 21, 2016: We just published a fresh factsheet about the WSU Energy Library, a unique, full-service library at our Olympia location. The WSU Energy Library provides energy-related information to all Washingtonians. Read it here!

We Won! The Jeffrey A. Johnson Award Honoring Excellence in the Advancement of Building Energy Codes

March 24, 2016: The team nominated by the WSU Energy Program for this prestigious national award – Chuck Murray, Washington Dept. of Commerce; Gary Nordeen, WSU Energy Program; and David Baylon, Ecotope – was recognized at the 2016 DOE National Energy Codes Conference for their leadership in establishing building energy codes that support energy efficiency goals.

From the WSU Energy Program award nomination:

For many years, the state of Washington has had one of the most innovative and rigorous residential energy codes in the nation. It is also a state with a very high level of compliance with its code. The team we are nominating for the Jeffrey A. Johnson Award has led innovations in Washington State Energy Code (WSEC) development and implementation that have made those twin successes possible. A key to their success in improving energy efficiency in Washington state residences is addressing this issue from various angles: influencing policy, providing training and technical assistance, vetting new energy-efficient technologies, and analyzing results to support code changes. The three nominees integrate their insights to catalyze the changes that keep the WSEC among the most rigorous and effective state energy codes in the country.

Congratulations to Chuck, Gary, and David for their decades of hard work that earned them this recognition.


Re-inventing the Energy Landscape Thanks to ARRA

March 1, 2016: Much of the good work accomplished by the WSU Energy Program in recent years was catalyzed by funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). These projects include operating the U.S. Department of Energy Recovery Act Clearinghouse, establishing Washington state’s Community Energy Efficiency Program, supporting resource conservation management programs in schools and local government, and evaluating promising energy-efficient technologies and determining their potential in real-world markets.

ARRA funding encouraged energy engineers and scientists across the U.S. to re-invent the energy landscape. This Energy Department article, The Recovery Act and Clean Energy, details how far we’ve come.


Enormous Growth in Number of Solar PV Systems in WA

January 28, 2016: Sunny news for a wintery Thursday: In 2015, the number of solar PV systems certified by our solar specialist for the WA Renewable Energy System Cost Recovery Program grew by more than 50 percent over 2014 numbers. Clearly it's working! 

E3T Showcase Webinar: Multifamily New Construction Technology Roundup

December 15, 2015: Register now for this Thursday's E3T webinar, featuring presentations by Seattle City Light's Meghan Pinch and Ecotope's Jonathon Heller. Noon to 1:00 p.m., Dec. 17.  read more ...

Consortium Collecting Information about State's Public School Buildings

November 13, 2015: The Washington State Legislature has requested the assistance of our Plant Operations Support Consortium to inventory and assess the condition of Washington’s schools. This information will help our elected officials make informed decisions about school facilities essential to support basic education throughout the state. read more ...

Leading Clean Energy Development for Thurston County

October 28, 2015: Thurston County, LOTT Clean Water Alliance, Puget Sound Energy, and The Evergreen State College have partnered with the WSU Energy Program to assess the feasibility of converting dairy, food, and other organic wastes into multiple renewable energy and agricultural resources. read more ...

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