Charleston poised to become first city to use energy benchmarking in WV

Local News

CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) — This past legislative session, the state of West Virginia passed a bill to make state buildings more energy efficient.

Now, the City of Charleston wants to do the same.

An energy benchmarking ordinance is up for a vote Monday by the Facilities and Environment and Recycling Committee.

The ordinance came from the City’s newly-formed Green Team, and if passed, will require the city to cut its energy use by 25% by the year 2030.

“That the city first takes a look and then figures out, how much energy are we spending at each building? How much energy is being used? And then come up with a plan to reduce their energy,” said Emmett Pepper, the president of the city’s Green Team.

Pepper says there are many ways to make a building more energy-efficient: from solar panels to new lighting, to new heating and cooling systems, and making sure the buildings are sealed properly.

“Sometimes you’ll find that the ductwork is leaky so you’re heating an area, cooling an area that nobody is in,” he said.

By doing so it will mean less burning of fossil fuels, but it will also translate into an annual savings of nearly $500,000 for taxpayers.

“This also creates a lot of jobs, these are jobs that have to be done here. You can’t have somebody in some other country improving the windows or sealing the buildings here at City Hall,” he said.

“I think it’s a fantastic idea,” said Charleston resident Steve Wellons.

Wellons is way ahead of the City, and most residents, with energy reduction at his own home.

The Wellons’ home is what can be called a passive solar house with insulating earth on three sides of it, solar panels that give him all of the energy he needs, two electric vehicles which he charges from the surplus energy from his panels, a sustainable garden, and a wood-burning stove.

Mr. Wellons even uses wood he chops himself and ages for two years for a cleaner burn.

He says he does all of this for the moral aspect of not burning any more fossil fuels, but it also saves him money.

“I think the city will be able to save a lot more than their goal of 20 to 30% by 2030, if all our city buildings had solar panels on the roof, for example, they’d be able to use all the electricity they need in those buildings,” said Wellons.

If the ordinance passes in committee Monday, it will then go to City Council for a full vote.

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