In Seattle, Property Owners Competing to be Biggest Loser in “Kilowatt Crackdown”

In Seattle, a nearly 100-year-old real estate trade association is using an age-old approach to encouraging energy conservation. It’s fostering competition.

The Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) of Seattle and King County is conducting its second annual Kilowatt Crackdown, a contest that encourages real estate developers across the Puget Sound region to reduce the amount of energy their properties consume.  The building with the biggest drop in energy consumption wins.

BOMA’s president Rodney Kauffman told The Seattle Times that in the contest’s inaugural year, the 53 buildings that competed saved “enough energy to power 1,000 homes for one year” (the Kilowatt Crackdown site breaks that down a bit more, explaining that the savings is equal to the electric consumption of 1,000 homes in the Northwest, which has very low electric rates, but it’s still a significant amount of conservation).

There are nearly 50 entries for this year’s contest, and entries are being accepted until April 30. A Seattle-based real-estate investment company called Unico Properities, won the competition last year after reducing energy consumption at one of its buildings by 17 percent.

BOMA uses the Energy Star’s criteria for rating building energy performance for auditing the amount of energy each entrant consumes over the course of the contest. There will be an overall winner as well as category winners (based on the size of the buildings, for example, or the assistance made by the buildings’ tenants to help improve efficiency).

This year’s contest will actually span two years, which will give competitors more time to make significant changes in the building system technologies they use. They’ll also be able to take advantage of scoping studies and aid from BetterBricks, an initiative developed by the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance that helps building owners identify and exploit opportunities for energy efficiency improvements.

The Kilowatt Crackdown also dovetails with a recent ordinance passed in Seattle that requires owners of commercial properties to track the amount of energy those buildings consume. The purpose of the ordinance is to make energy consumption of buildings more transparent to potential buyers or tenants of the buildings.

Contests have become a popular method of stoking innovation in energy efficiency, such as through the X Prize for or the Imagine H2O contest for water conservation. Utilities have also had some luck fostering competition among ratepayers to conserve.

[via Environmental Leader]

Freelance writer Mary Catherine O'Connor finds that a growing number of companies are proving the ways that they can make good financially, socially and environmentally (as the triple bottom line theory suggests).With that in mind, she contributes to Triple Pundit, as well as to Earth2Tech and other pubs focused on sustainability. She also writes The Good Route, an Outside Magazine blog that addresses the intersection of sustainability and the active/outdoor life.To find out more, or to reach her, go to

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