By Marty Denzer
Catholic Key Reporter
KANSAS CITY — Going green, saving green and green energy are some of the buzzwords of today, but these have real meaning. Saving and sustaining the environment and saving hard earned cash are topics people all over the world want to learn more about.
The Diocesan Office of Human Rights, an advocate for environmental sustainability, hosted a presentation on energy at the Catholic Center on April 29. Representatives from Kansas City Power and Light, Missouri Gas Energy and the Metropolitan Energy Center presented energy saving ideas and cash saving opportunities and showed their audience how to plug in. Jude Huntz, director of the Human Rights Office, said, “This will provide parishes and schools the opportunity to be good stewards of the environment as well as of their financial resources.”
It was hoped that schools might be able to take advantage of some of the programs available. Several parishes and the Strong City Schools were represented as well as some individuals.
Robert Housh, executive director of Metropolitan Energy Center, spoke of energy efficiency goals in residential and commercial buildings.
“We look for things that are wasting energy,” he said. “People say wise use of energy isn’t rocket science. It’s actually harder than rocket science, which is why the study of energy use in commercial and residential buildings is part of what is called building sciences.”
Think of heating, cooling and lighting systems as a group of interacting elements forming a complex whole that works together to help residents cook, heat, cool and live comfortably, Housh suggested. The goal of a green building or home is 15 percent minimum increase in energy efficiency.
Scott Burnett, commercial building manager for Metropolitan Energy Center handed out a listing of incentives, credits, rebates and loan programs:
Kansas City Power and Light (KCPL) and Missouri Gas Energy (MGE) have made several programs available to schools, local governments, commercial and industrial building owners, as well as residential property owners.
Kansas City Power and Light has rebate programs for residential and commercial/industrial customers. Rebates are available for energy audits and for lighting, air conditioning, motors and other upgrades. For more information, visit www.kcpl.com and link to customer services.
Missouri Gas Energy offers residential and small business efficiency rebates for water heaters, furnaces, boilers, programmable thermostats and water heating/furnace combination units. For more information, visit www.missourigasenergy.com or www.betterheatingnow.com.
Commercial and industrial owners can take advantage of several programs. Energize Missouri Industries-Best Price Program identifies industrial and commercial customers to implement energy efficient projects. For more information, visit www.energizemissouriindustry.com.
The Energy Policy Act of 2005 offers commercial energy customers a one time federal tax incentive for energy efficient upgrades for new or upgraded buildings. For more information, visit www.EPAct2005.org or www.energytaxincentives.org.
Municipalities can take advantage of PACE. PACE, Property Assessed Clean Energy, is a voluntary program enabling cities or counties to set up special Clean Energy Development boards capable of issuing low interest bonds. The bond money is used to cover the coast of a loan program. Participating property owners, both residential and commercial, can opt in and receive a 20-year loan for renewable energy and energy efficiency improvements and pay it back through a 20-year assessment on their property taxes. Clean Energy Development Boards are in the process of being established in Missouri. For more information, visit www.renewmo.org/pace.
One of the first things a residential property owner should do is schedule an energy audit, which will help ascertain where energy is leaking or being wasted.
Jason Fulp of MGE said during an energy audit, the home is depressurized so that leaks are evident. A report is made on the audits findings. Usually home sealing and insulation are vital elements in energy efficiency, he said. Most buildings, whether residential or commercial have inadequate insulation. Air sealing and insulation are the first and most cost effective ways of upgrading energy efficiency. Contrary to what you see on TV, windows should be the last things replaced, he said.
Gas furnaces and water heaters should be replaced if necessary. Water heaters tend to become less efficient after about seven years, Fulp added. Tankless water heaters are expensive, but pay for themselves through lower energy and operating costs.
Kevin Brannon, KCPL program manager for commercial prescription programs, explained that often commercial rebate programs are based on a facility’s square footage. For smaller commercial customers, there are set rebates for lighting and heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems.
Many ideas and dreams of renewing and sustaining efficient energy use came together in a project spearheaded by Metropolitan Energy Center. Project Living Proof was only a dream six years ago, but now is a reality at 917 Emmanuel Cleaver II Boulevard in Kansas City. The 99-year-old home, built by William Rockhill Nelson for employees at the Kansas City Star, is located one block west of the Green Impact Zone, the 150 block area in the urban core targeted for federal funding through Congressman Emmanuel Cleaver to create more sustainable, livable neighborhoods through energy efficiency programs and green job training. Green Zone leadership plans to use Project Living Proof to educate neighborhood youth, leaders and residents about energy efficiency, SmartGrid technology, and renewable energy projects.
Housh said that the goal of Project Living Proof is that people who visit the house will relate what they see and learn about to their own homes, and have ideas about what they can do.
“It can be a powerful influence as it is the physical embodiment of what being green means,” he said. “People will see Project Living Proof and see their own homes. They will come to understand the practicality of change.”
For more information on Going Green and incentives, rebates, credits and loans, contact Scott Burnett, commercial building manager, Metropolitan Energy Center, 3810 Paseo Boulevard, Kansas City, MO, 64109, firstname.lastname@example.org or (816) 365-6664 cell.