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Energy Trust of Oregon grants first Net Zero Fellowship Award for innovation in energy efficiency

Nonprofit launches new, competitive method for encouraging innovation

PORTLAND, Ore. — May 10, 2017— Energy Trust of Oregon announced today the winner of its first ever Net Zero Fellowship award. Brightworks Sustainability, one of the first sustainability consulting firms in the United States, will receive $37,000 to conduct innovative research on incorporating advanced energy efficiency in commercial buildings.

The Net Zero Fellowship aims to accelerate market adoption of net-zero buildings in Oregon by enabling a growing community of design teams to deploy many strategies available today. Over the course of a year, net-zero buildings create roughly the same amount of energy as used by taking full advantage of energy opportunities on site.

“We designed the Net Zero Fellowship to encourage innovation and inspire activity within Oregon’s design community,” said Jessica Iplikci, program manager, Energy Trust. “With a limited infusion of funding, we can tap into Oregon’s extensive energy expertise.”

Brightworks Sustainability was founded in Portland in 2001 and offers sustainability consulting for buildings and organizations. Shilpa Surana, Brightworks’ lead energy analyst and energy modeler, will direct this research project. Her research explores strategies to achieve net-zero energy in new multifamily and office buildings based on systems that are technically and economically feasible today.

“The work will identify the most cost-effective net-zero strategies to challenge a market assumption that net-zero buildings are cost prohibitive,” continued Iplikci. “These strategies will move us toward a more efficient market”

The resulting strategies and detailed supporting analysis will be shared publicly early next year and presented to the design and development community as prototypes for net-zero multifamily and office buildings.

“With this fellowship grant, we’re hoping to show the design and construction community that efficient and cost-effective strategies, with the associated cost premiums, make net-zero buildings feasible,” said Shilpa Surana, lead energy analyst and energy modeler, Brightworks.

Energy Trust selected Brightworks after a competitive process involving input from a committee of advisors experienced in sustainable, high-performance and net-zero-energy buildings. Gerding Edlen, a development firm and local green building leader, was a part of the committee.  “Gerding Edlen is pleased to be involved in this research as we believe the results will provide actionable insights that will help our future projects get closer to net-zero energy,” said Renee Loveland, director of sustainability, Gerding Edlen. “This comprehensive study will provide a deeper examination, based on data from actual operating buildings, of the opportunities and challenges involved.”

For more information on Energy Trust’s Path to Net Zero Fellowship, go to

Energy Trust of Oregon is an independent nonprofit organization dedicated to helping utility customers benefit from saving energy and generating renewable power. Our services, cash incentives and energy solutions have helped participating customers of Portland General Electric, Pacific Power, NW Natural, Cascade Natural Gas and Avista save $2.3 billion on energy bills. Our work helps keep energy costs as low as possible, creates jobs and builds a sustainable energy future. Learn more at or call 1-866-368-7878.

Category: Commercial/Not-for-profit
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