Buildings can have ENERGY STARS too. That might be news to most people but not to Co-op Owner Jamie Campbell. And Jamie did what needed to be done to make Willy Street Co-op the first co-op in Wisconsin to receive Energy Star Certification.
Jamie Campbell is one of the nearly 20,000 Willy Street Co-op Owners who have a voice in how the Co-op operates, and Jamie used his. Campbell is an engineer and he wanted to offer his expertise combined with his enthusiasm for energy conservation to help the Co-op find ways be energy efficient and environmentally friendly. Over 10 years ago when the Co-op was preparing to move to its current location, Campbell got involved and he isn’t finished yet.
Campbell had experience with the ENERGY STAR Certification process and helped shepherd the Co-op through the steps to achieve this honor. He considered it a "no-brainer" as the Co-op had made sound environmental decisions from the beginning. The US Environmental Protection Agency and the US Department of Energy annually recognizes buildings that make outstanding contributions to protecting the environment through energy efficiency. To be certified, a building must perform in the top 25% compared to their peers nationwide. On the average, ENERGY STAR labeled buildings consume about 35% less than their non-ENERGY STAR counterparts.
That performance level was very achievable for Willy Street Co-op according to Campbell. "Co-op management, the board and other owner members have been long been involved in making sure the environment is a priority. They take the longer view beyond profitability to see what is good for the Co-op and good for the planet."
Efficient heating, lighting and energy systems helped the Co-op reach the certification level. Efficiencies were realized early on from the solar-electric system provides electricity to the Co-op and will be increased with the recently installed solar thermal system that will provide hot water. ENERGY STAR rated appliances are used and installed to replace worn equipment when available. In addition to making energy efficiency a priority, the Co-op has a robust reduce, recycle and reuse program, is a city collection site for plastic bags, carries environmentally friendly products in the store and has even included the Co-op grounds in the efforts. The rain gardens, water filtration systems and improvements to the parking lot are some of the ways the Co-op reduces its environmental footprint. Additional details are available at here.
As for next steps, Campbell has plans to "tap into Co-op employees and get ideas from those who work there every day to see what can be done next." He is also willing to help make Willy West in Middleton as energy-efficient as possible, and the Co-op shares his interest.
"It is gratifying to be the first Co-op in Wisconsin to receive ENERGY STAR Certification and we are grateful for Jamie's willingness to share his expertise and passion," states Anya Firszt, the Co-op's General Manager. "Jamie has helped the Co-op identify avenues to make the Co-op a greener business and consumer."