Green Washington Awards 2013: Academia/Government


WINNER: Seattle University

Seattle University’s recent efforts to improve sustainability and reduce waste are myriad and miraculous. The 7,700-student academic institution on Capitol Hill has a list of green achievements as long as a dean’s robe—and it’s getting longer every year.

All four of the university’s most recently completed new buildings are LEED Gold certified. The school switched from purchased steam energy to on-site natural gas boilers and slashed annual CO₂ emissions by two million pounds, saving $138,000 a year. LED lamps have replaced compact fluorescents in the Student Center and a swimming pool

heat-recovery system will save an additional 575,000 pounds of CO₂ emissions annually.

In its quest to become more efficient and environmentally friendly, Seattle University has looked at every little detail, including its paper towel dispensers. The old ones ran on batteries (requiring 3,600 battery changes a year); the new ones are manually operated. The environmental studies program in the College of Arts and Sciences transformed unused land at the King County South Wastewater Treatment Plant in Renton into a sustainable farm that donates produce to local food banks. Earlier this year, the university created the Center for Environmental Justice & Sustainability, an effort to encourage more scholarship on the issue of planetary stewardship.


SILVER: University of Washington

A groundbreaking smart grid project allows dorm residents at the UW’s main campus in Seattle to monitor and reduce their building’s energy use while competing against other dorms. In 2012, the university saved

$6 million on energy-efficiency improvements alone. Thanks to a computer-controlled irrigation system, low-flow fixtures and rainwater cisterns, the university has reduced water use by 40 percent since 2000. All told, the UW boasts nearly two million square feet of LEED-certified campus structures and nearly seven acres of green roofs. The efficiency even spills onto the gridiron: The renovated Husky Stadium and neighboring football operations building are expected to achieve LEED Gold certification.

2016 Community Impact Awards: Green Products & Services

2016 Community Impact Awards: Green Products & Services

Winner: Optimum Energy, Itek Energy, Rice Fergus Miller

Gold Award:
Optimum Energy
Location: Seattle  |  Employees: 60  |  Top Exec: Bert Valdman, president/CEO   |

“Being green” is not a trend at Optimum Energy. The company, which enables campuses, health care facilities, pharmaceutical plants, data centers and other commercial buildings to cut energy costs by up to 50 percent, believes society must reverse the pace of climate change. The firm’s cloud-based platform and its associated technology optimize heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems, the largest consumer of energy in most buildings. This technology has enabled customers to save about 500 million kilowatt hours of electricity, reduce carbon emissions by nearly 290,000 metric tons and save more than 100 million gallons of water. “We have to reverse the pace of climate change, and we can’t do that unless we’re able to do more with fewer economic and physical resources, without comprising the environment,” says CEO Bert Valdman. “Accepting the status quo is not an option. We must develop the tools and technology to become more sustainable. And we must do so on a straight-up economic basis, without subsidies.”

Silver Award: 
Itek Energy
Location: Bellingham  |  Employees: 88  |  Top Exec: John Flanagan, founder/CEO  |

Itek Energy manufactures high-powered solar modules in Bellingham. The company also works with nonprofits to power low-income housing, the Bellingham Food Bank, homeless shelters and community buildings. In the past four years, Itek Energy has locally built and sold in Washington more than 160,000 solar modules, which will produce more than 50 gigawatt hours of renewable energy every year. 

Silver Award:
Rice Fergus Miller
Location: Bremerton  |  Employees: 44  |  Top Exec: Steve Rice, principal  |

Architectural, interior design, planning and visualization services to several markets, including senior living, fire and emergency services, health care, hospitality and community. For almost three decades, the firm has focused on projects that build and strengthen community. The company is housed in a reclaimed auto service center that is one of the most energy-efficient buildings in the United States.