Hood River woman named Energy Manager of Year

Cathy Higgins of Hood River was recently named Energy Manager of the Year by the Oregon Association of Professional Energy Managers.

Higgins, research director with New Buildings Institute of Vancouver, Wash., has been with NBI for 12 years.

At the OAPEM winter forum in Salem, Higgins was lauded for her work in technical and market data needed in the Northwest and nationally on energy savings in existing businesses. Her credits include:

n Leading 2011 research into Deep Energy Savings in existing buildings, resulting in the representation for the actual energy performance, characteristics and technologies of 50 U.S. buildings achieving an average of 46 percent savings over code; and

n Developing 11 related case studies of deep savings in existing buildings; and

n Expanding measured performance data on commercial buildings within the NBI data base, now available to the public.

Higgins was also recognized for providing “foundational evidence” for NEEA Deep Energy Renewal programs and producing performance data to engage finance entities and business owners.

Higgins had a major role in three “think tank” summits in Atlanta, Boulder and New Orleans in 2007, 2011 and 2012. She provided leadership in four major research projects that she said are resulting in advancements in efficiency on energy performance feedback, office plug load energy savings assessments, indirect evaporative hybrid cooling systems and day lighting impact.

“This work led to school districts, including the largest district in the U.S. (Los Angeles) and some Oregon school districts, adopting specifications for the inclusion of day lighting in new school designs. My role was the management of the research and market connection of the results,” she said.

As NBI Program and Research Director Higgins has served as lead on extensive research efforts to move emerging technologies and design strategies into the market, and into code. She has managed the Deep Energy Savings Initiative, outreach and coordination with industry allies and utilities, and provided team and staff management.

“NBI and my efforts on behalf of our industry fall into four main approaches,” Higgins said. These include:

n Researching emerging technologies (field performance and market issues) and using those results to advance energy savings;

n Producing advanced guides on best practices (technologies and strategies) made widely available and applied through utility programs and market channels;

n Measuring performance and conducting case studies demonstrating the actual energy outcomes, business rationale and inspiration of high performance buildings; and

n Developing policy drivers such as codes and standards, reach codes and support for the integration of energy disclosure and green/energy efficiency programs into corporate and municipal/state policies.

“In all facets of my professional work the focus is on reducing the energy use of commercial buildings,” Higgins said. “I selected this field as critical to having a positive impact on the world as early as high school ... and have worked in it continually since college.”

Prior to joining NBI in 2000 Higgins was the director for the Oregon Municipal Energy Conservation Association, managing the joint efficiency efforts of six Oregon municipal utilities and an $11 million federal grant.

She served as the commercial conservation manager at Bonneville Power Association and was responsible for $14 million annual conservation efforts in conjunction with more than 30 Northwest utilities and a staff of six.

She also worked as the sales and project manager for Oregon Heat Pump-Wescor Corporation, doing technical presentations and energy assessments of homes for water heater and air-source heat pumps and development and management of commercial sector sales and service contracts for HVAC.

As energy and urban planner for the City of Ashland, Higgins worked on the energy portion of the city’s 20-year comprehensive plan and its involvement in the first solar access ordinance in the U.S.

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