EWEB helps the City of Eugene lower its carbon footprint 11/04/2021

Travis Reeder's specialty is finding ways to reduce energy. From the tallest building in town to the city's pools, he's helped Eugene save energy, save money, and lower its carbon footprint. 

"We've worked with the City of Eugene on energy efficiency projects for decades. And we have great relationships with the folks over there," Travis said. "We work collaboratively to complete projects meeting both City and EWEB needs."

Travis' latest collaboration will help cut about one third of the City's carbon footprint for General Fund Facilities.

"Early on in the design process, we were looking at the different ways you could save carbon within the City's Facilities. And it came to light that 50% of carbon emitted by City facilities was from swimming pools."

That realization led Travis and the City to dive into exploring how they could make the pools more efficient and less carbon intensive. The team shared an interest in the idea of using an electric heat pump - powered with 90% carbon-free electricity - as the primary heat source for the pool. There were no examples of this innovation in the Pacific Northwest climate to use as a case study, however. By utilizing the existing gas boilers during periods of peak heating, the team calculated they would be able to mitigate the risk of using a heat pump to heat a pool operated year-round.

The team also identified key inefficiencies to correct, like how the Echo Hollow Pool was split between an inside and outside pool and lost heat to the cold winter air, the difficulty covering the pool, lighting at the site, air control, and water leaks.

With a plan in hand, the City appealed to Eugene voters for a Bond Measure in 2018 to improve City Recreation Facilities, including the energy efficiency upgrades to the Echo Hollow and Sheldon pools, and the Campbell Community Center.

Travis wrote up a plan to meet the Bonneville Power Administration guidelines to secure energy conservation rebates. EWEB also contributed Greenpower funds to install photovoltaic panels to help power the new heat pumps. Greenpower is a voluntary subscription for EWEB customers who want to invest in local renewable energy projects. (If you are an EWEB customer, you can assign up to 100% of your electricity use by paying a small premium on your electric bill. EWEB uses these Greenpower funds to support research, education, and projects that advance renewable energy, including our rooftop solar rebates.)

"In day-to-day operations the heat pump system will completely run the pool," said City Facilities Manager Jeff Perry. "And it's a major reduction in our carbon footprint. In fact, between the Echo Hollow project, our new Campbell Community Center and the new Sheldon project that's under construction, those three projects reduce our City-wide carbon use by 30%, for General Fund Facilities."

The Echo Hollow renovation was completed this summer. Along with the energy efficiency upgrades that reduce Echo Hollow Pool's carbon footprint by 64%, Eugene's swimmers are enjoying a new diving board, a kids' play area, new locker rooms, and a big slide.

"This is a perfect opportunity," said Jeff. "It's one of those projects that's fulfilling and I'm just proud that we were able to participate on it."

The Echo Hollow Pool project is just one example of opportunities to support our community's climate recovery goals through energy efficiency and smart transitions from fossil-based fuel use to electricity.

"It's a great opportunity to save energy and support our local energy efficiency economy," Travis added.

EWEB offers over 40 different Greenpower, energy efficiency and conservation products/programs, including limited income and rental qualifying programs, electric vehicle charging and heat pump hot water heater incentives, along with commercial programs for lighting, refrigeration, compressors, and other applications.