New Era of Energy For Lopez

  • Fri Apr 30th, 2010 10:56pm
  • Life
(from left) Doug Poole and Jeff Dyer stand in front of one of their recently installed solar panels on Lopez Island.

(from left) Doug Poole and Jeff Dyer stand in front of one of their recently installed solar panels on Lopez Island.

“The greenest watt is the watt we never use,” says Lopezian Doug Poole. As an energy consultant, however, he understands that this is too extreme a solution for the average household. Moreover, it is the average household that he and partner Jeff Dyer are eager to help out.

Although Poole and Dyer own and operate individual businesses (the former has Sage Building Solutions, the latter operates Turtleback Renewables) the two have combined their backgrounds to offer ground breaking energy saving services.

“We connected over our individual skill sets,’’ says Dyer, describing the inception of the partnership in January. “Doug has a construction back ground, and experience with green building solutions which coupled very nicely with my experience in the solar energy.” The resulting service takes green power and renewable energy to a new level for Lopez.

The service they offer is not simply a replacement of grid electricity with solar power, but a comprehensive consultation. Before solar panels are even installed the house is audited for energy efficiency. “We view the house as an entire system,” says Poole, explaining how they approach a project with a whole house perspective. “You have to go to the root of the problem which is energy waste,” says Dyer, “there is no point in doing renewables if you have leaky windows.”

“It starts with an energy audit,” says Poole, describing the process,”where I use several high tech devices to measure how the building is doing. For instance, the blower door depressurizes the structure and tells me where all the holes are in house, those are the holes that let warm air that is full of energy out and cold air in. There are specific guidelines auditors follow to make sure the house is not made too tight. Another device is the manometer. It measures very slight pressure differences. One thing the manometer can do is check to make sure flue gasses are leaving the house from a hot water heater or furnace, if not, this can lead to dangerous levels of carbon monoxide which is odorless and can make occupants sick.”

The process is not supposed to be designed for only those who care about renewables. The ease and efficiency of the process means it is accessible to even the most stalwart of energy consumers. Plus, there are other monetary reasons. “There are several incentives for solar installation.” says Poole, “Sage is working closely with the newly formed Islands Energy Coalition as well as the Opportunity Council and Building Performance Center of Bellingham to offer audits and weatherization, and to develop curriculum for energy efficiency education.” Poole adds that there are also state and federal tax credits and rebates available for those who switch to renewables.

Over all, Poole and Dyer are offering lopez the opportunity to be energy aware, without any massive change to lifestyle. They hope that this outlook will catch on with other local construction workers, and that they can share the process. With more people qualified to offer the service, more houses will be able to make the move toward a livable, greener future. For more information contact Doug Poole at