Partnerships are critical to a cleaner, safer energy future

Energy is such a ubiquitous element of our existence that we rarely give it much thought – even when paying our electric or gas bills or fueling up at the gas station. Whether living in a mansion in Malibu or in a hut in the Australia bush, energy at its most basic level is used to prepare food and provide warmth and light. Beyond the basics, there are billions of energy consumers for millions of uses and it is becoming more and more critical that we see beyond the next tank of gas or utility bill and begin to make marked progress toward clean and efficient energy use.

Partnerships are a critical element of managing a clean energy transition. Throughout the many components of production, distribution and use, natural partnerships emerge, like the partnership between the Sustainable Living Center (SLC) and Cascade Natural Gas (CNG). Since SLC’s beginnings as the Northwest Renewable Energy Festival in 2001, to teamwork as part of the $5 million Georgetown University Energy Prize, we’ve had many successes, including our involvement in the Community Energy Efficiency Program. That program started as an American Recovery and Reinvestment pilot project to insulate homes in 2008, and has since evolved into a robust program featuring a suite of home and small business efficiency measures funded by the Washington State Legislature. Our partnership is also about supporting one another on education and outreach efforts, quality assurance monitoring, capacity building, technical support and more.

Our unique partnership works on so many levels because we have common goals. A main goal is to reduce carbon emissions. We accomplish this through outreach, education and providing financial incentives to homeowners, landlords and small businesses to invest in building and equipment efficiency. Additional elements include identifying options for sourcing natural gas from renewable sources such as methane capture from landfills and dairy farms. We also support education that focuses on behavioral change and highlights the benefits of renewable energy resources such as wind, solar and hydro.

Through partnerships such as ours, among diverse stakeholders, we effect change in our communities. The Partnership for Energy Progress highlights critical work that is being done and will continue bringing people together as we transition to a cleaner, safer energy future.

By Erendira Cruz, Executive Director of the Sustainable Living Center