Partnering with California Energy Corps to Conduct Energy & Water Audits

Since August 2014, US Forest Service Region 5 (Sierra National Forest) and the California Conservation Corps (Energy Corps Program) have collaborated through a pilot partnership designed to provide the Corps’ highly skilled energy and water audit teams (see Figure 1) to Forest Service locations seeking to determine their energy and water consumption baseline and plan for future energy and water conservation measures. Current Forest Service staffing levels and limited facility budgets pose a challenge to conducting the necessary audits to guide such facility improvements. Partnering with the California Energy Corps provided an opportunity to collaborate with a diverse population, to help create a pipeline to employment, and to meet a portion of the energy and water auditing needs of the Sierra National Forest.

 

Partners with California Energy

 

Figure 1. The California Energy Corps crew at the Bass Lake Ranger Station, Sierra National Forest. The crew conducted energy and water audits for four days in November 2014. The corps members are pictured as follows: Front row from left to right: Luther Larkin, Oscar Uribe, Jacqueline Lucero, Vue Xiong; Back row from left to right: Daniel Lopez-Torres, Silver Gaxiola, Corbin Whiting, Baltazar Leon, Robert Runyan, Jay Smith, Andrew Johnson, Kelly Arikawa.

The Sierra National Forest was selected as a pilot location to bring increased attention to energy and water conservation to the central part of the state. The pilot audit focused on three scales of facilities, which are representative of the vast majority of Region 5 buildings in California.

The facilities (from smallest to largest) were the:

1. Douglas Fire Station
2. Batterson Work Center
3. Northfork Compound

Via this collaboration, corps members furthered their facilities knowledge base (generally the Corps focuses on K-12 school campuses) and were exposed to Forest Service Engineering Staff projects; this is a direct extension of the Corps’s training emphasis. The Forest Service, in turn, received ASHRAE Level 1.5 energy audits to guide future facilities improvements.

The Corps offers auditing services at a substantially reduced cost compared to most auditing firms. Coordination with the Corps may be a pathway for Forest Service Region 5 to complete its required re-evaluation of Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) Covered Facilities, as well as for identifying energy and water conservation measures at its numerous other facilities throughout California.

The California Energy Corps, which is a recognized AmeriCorps Program, is a partnership between the California Conservation Corps, UC Davis Energy Efficiency Center and local conservation corps programs. In this program, young adults receive training and hands-on experience, by conducting energy and water audits at residential-scale facilities. In some cases, these same corps members follow up by installing energy-efficient and clean energy systems as well as water-saving devices at the audited facilities.

More information and recent videos about the Energy Corps Program are available at:  California Energy Service Corps Program

 

By: Lara Buluç (Sustainable Operations/Climate Change Coordinator, USFS, Region 5)