Meet the Multifamily Energy Efficiency Program “Bulbologists”

Suzanne White
multifamily energy efficiency program team

Upgrading all residential units at properties of five or more units in the greater Seattle service area from incandescent bulbs to more efficient CFL and LED light bulbs is no small feat. It truly takes, well, a family to run a multifamily energy efficiency program.

Each person on the Ecova multifamily team plays a unique role in getting energy savings to qualifying properties, but few get more in-person interaction with our customers than our energy auditors. Ecova’s Field Coordinators Matt Henry and Seane OHara (pictured above on the right) are the faces of the program in the community. They serve as ambassadors for the energy-saving initiative as they visit properties to determine eligibility and often assist with installation.

Matt and Seane have been out in the field in various capacities since 2007 and 2008, respectively. Their immersion in the world of our multifamily customers provides valuable insight into the realm of multifamily property management and maintenance. They may only spend about an hour auditing each property, but as Seane says, “We jokingly call ourselves bulbologists, but we are making a difference, one bulb at a time.”

This duo is an important part of our Ecova team, and is making great strides toward helping residential properties with five or more units achieve a higher level of energy efficiency. Matt and Seane agreed to share their wealth of knowledge with me during a recent conversation:

“What qualities make a successful energy auditor?”

Seane: “Sometimes we get pushed pretty hard to finish an audit, and sometimes we have all the time in the world. Maintaining a relationship with the customer is most important. No matter what the audit time constraints, when you are invested in it and you want to make a change, you will.”

Matt: “You need to be someone who can pay attention to details, but not get caught up in them. With some properties, you need to move the audit along as efficiently as possible, and a property representative doesn’t need to hear every little fact or stat. Details aren’t necessarily always a good thing.”

“What are some common roadblocks you encounter as an energy auditor trying to promote the program?”

Seane: “We get a lot of questions about our products. It’s easy to throw out bulb terminology…but you really have to explain how the bulbs will benefit the property. It’s important to honestly address any questions property representatives have about the product or process, and know what their expectations are.”

“What is the most rewarding part of your job?”

Matt: I got into this industry with the idea that I could make a change for the planet, not just for people’s pocketbooks. It’s great when I get to work with folks who are on that same page and understand that these programs will not only help save them money, but help them reduce their carbon footprints.

“What has been one of your most memorable experiences in the field?”

Matt: “It was one of those perfect situations where it was an old building. The rep took me to all the little nooks and crannies ―the attic, the boiler room, the roof―all the places no one else gets to visit.”

Seane: “It’s definitely a cool walk back in time if an old building is maintained properly. I once did an audit of a building with a great view of Puget Sound. I commented on it and the property represenative said, ‘Oh, you like that? We have a rooftop area… you want to go up there after the audit?’ And I was like, ‘Yeah, I’ve got time.”
For more information on the work of Seane and Matt and the rest of the Ecova team, check out a recent energy efficiency program case study or visit our Utility Program Solutions page. Please contact us if you are interested in scheduling an audit for your property.

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