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A Tour of San Diego’s Energy Efficiency Center
Last month, I had the opportunity to travel to San Diego for the Smart Grid Consumer Symposium and Distributech. During my trip, I visited San Diego Gas & Electric’s Energy Innovation Center, a recently developed facility for the community to learn more about energy efficiency, the smart grid, and renewable energy options. Built in 2010, the Energy Innovation Center boasts that 85% of its materials are from reused or recycled sources.
The facility is served by six massive solar panel stations which generate about 60mw of power that directly support the building. There are EV fast chargers installed for the utility’s electric vehicles, and the panels, as large as they are, also provide some shading for the cars in the parking lot. I had never seen solar panels that large—and that wasn’t all of them, either! The building’s roof had another installation that also contributed power to the building.
The EIC has a number of different uses: classroom settings to engage customers and contractors in energy efficiency programs; test areas to illustrate the difference between devices, like incandescent versus LED lightbulbs; and an impressive demonstration kitchen that houses cutting edge, efficient appliances for use in professional kitchens. It even has a gorgeous Living Wall installation that helps acquire and recycle water for use in the building.
My favorite part of the tour, though, was the mock residential facility. One of the rooms is devoted to a living room, kitchen, and garage—all with working appliances that the EIC uses—to show consumers and builders how an energy efficient, smart technology-enabled home can function.
From the range to the privacy glass, nearly every device in the home represented a key aspect of energy efficiency, from direct savings to consumption. The living room displayed the energy use at any moment in time:
And that same information could be available throughout the house with a second, more portable display:
The garage featured a High Efficiency washer and dryer set, as well as an EV charging station below the meter.
Our lovely tour guide (pictured below) also showed us the energy inverter box that handled the massive power generation from the San Diego sunshine on the roof and the solar trees outside. I don’t know about you folks, but a solid energy inverter is one of the niftiest things I can think of.
I had a wonderful time visiting SDG&E’s Energy Innovation Center. Making it easy for consumers to directly experience energy efficiency devices and installations is a key aspect of education and outreach around energy efficiency. The EIC, located in a public shopping area in residential San Diego, has done a great job of making energy efficiency accessible, and providing a platform to educate their consumers.