Howdy y’all! We are Kayla Emerson and Julia Elliott, two recent UNC-Chapel Hill graduates working with ACE EPIC as energy auditors, currently writing from Missoula, MT. In this blog post, we will explain what we do and why we have been traveling on the road for the past two months!
The ACE Energy Audit Program works with USFWS to achieve the goals outlined by the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA). EISA is a 2007 bill passed with specific energy reduction goals for federal agencies and it aims to increase energy efficiency as a means to strengthen national energy independence and security. There are many different elements to this act of legislation from vehicle efficiency to appliances, but what we are doing focuses on energy usage and efficiency in federal buildings. The goal is complete electrification – the 2007 act states that “new federal buildings and those undergoing major renovations would have to phase out ‘fossil fuel-generated energy consumption’ by 2030” (Brady, 2023). Although EISA is over 15 years old, it is an ever-changing and complicated piece of legislation, but we are hopeful that our foundational work is a step in the right direction.
As a team of two, we travel to USFWS sites, such as National Wildlife Refuges and National Fish Hatcheries, across multiple regions of the US to collect data on their energy and water systems. We create energy reports based off of this data to share the strengths and shortcomings of each site. We look at domestic water heaters, HVAC systems, fuel sources, lighting, and much more. At our sites we get to meet a variety of refuge staff and peek behind closed doors to understand how the buildings operate. Every site is different, keeping us on our toes, and leaving us with great stories to share! Since our training in the Portland, Oregon area, we have audited one Wildlife Refuge, one Fish Technology Center, and four Fish Hatcheries across Washington state. Learning about these buildings and the work that each site does for wildlife in our country has been eye-opening. We also can’t complain about the scenic drive through the Pacific Northwest! Next, we will travel to Minneapolis, MN to continue our work in the Midwest.
Thanks for reading, and don’t forget to make the switch to LED lightbulbs!
Brady, J. (2023, April 16). A 15-year-old law would end fossil fuels in federal buildings, but it’s on hold. NPR.