Catalyst for climate action
August 14, 2015

Many businesses see the gravity of addressing global warming and they know they can lead the private sector to reducing emissions. MacDonald-Miller Facility Solutions is one of the growing number of businesses recognizing that public policy can bolster confidence and further investment in private sector solution technologies. It’s thanks to their leadership in the conservation sector that repeatable engineering solutions are brought to scale at the pace fast enough to address the climate crisis. 

MacDonald-Miller has been putting their words about the need for climate action into practice with their own business model in Washington and Oregon. MacDonald-Miller works with businesses to design, build and install solutions in the building sector to dramatically cut energy use.  

Take their work with Leatherman Tool Group, headquartered in Portland, Oregon. When one thinks of Leatherman, we think of the practical, multi-use tool. But it’s also a company that uses a lot of energy to make a highly specialized product. Working with Leatherman, MacDonald-Miller identified simple ways to dramatically cut energy use, including installing wireless fan speed optimization and fault detection analytic software for a more efficient, effective cooling system. Energy savings = real carbon emissions reductions = climate leadership. 

Before partnering with MacDonald-Miller, Energy Trust, and Energy 350 to improve their energy use, Leatherman was spending $80,000 annually on energy bills to power the rooftop cooling system at their headquarters manufacturing facility. Following a detailed analysis of the manufacturing plant, MacDonald-Miller identified a rooftop upgrade to the plant’s HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) system, by implementing a retrofit solution called “CATALYST.” CATALYST is a product made by Transformation Wave, and it has been validated by the Department of Energy. The CATALYST is known for being a technology game-changer: when installing the fan efficiency system to reduce energy use, a business will typically see a 50 percent reduction in energy use per rooftop cooling unit.

And this is for the mechanical engineers amongst our readers: The CATALYST system’s conservation software is capable of advanced fault-detection and virtual testing of the rooftop units’ ability to use free cooling.  Free cooling ventilation, what is commonly referred to as economizer control, is a major source of energy conservation for a rooftop system.  Unfortunately, a recent State of California energy study showed that more than 70% of the time they don’t function correctly. Proofing the economizer operation is a huge advantage that keeps perpetuating savings year after year.

In short, the CATALYST solution matches the HVAC needs of a facility to the appropriate level of ventilation, maximizing the use of outdoor air, and effectively eliminating wasted energy usage. In the case of Leatherman, implementing this technology solution resulted in a 63% reduction in energy use, which translates to real carbon reductions, and monetary savings as well.

MacDonald-Miller is not only leading in the private sector to cut energy consumption, but they also lead by actively engaging in public policy. Most recently leadership at MacDonald-Miller called on Oregon and Washington elected officials to account for the cost of carbon in our economy, and move from coal to clean, renewable energy (Oregon SB 477). They support implementing a strong clean fuels program in both states, and they have implemented clean vehicles into their own fleet as well, utilizing Chevy Volt electric vehicles and other clean fuels vehicles. Furthermore, MacDonald-Miller is a signatory company to the Climate Declaration – at both the national and state level, which calls on our political leaders to work together, regardless of politics, to lead on climate. By writing opinion pieces in the media, and showing up to testify at public hearings, they’ve taken their actions beyond their own business to calling for systemic change.

“The riskiest decision a business person can make is to do nothing. Climate change is happening. It will continue and it is impacting our businesses whether you believe it or not.”

Is that a quote from climate movement leader Bill McKibben at on the East Coast?  Closer to home our own KC Golden? 

Nope. It was business leader Perry England, Vice President of Building Performance at MacDonald-Miller Facility Solutions.

It is through the leadership from business executives like Perry England and other entrepreneurs, innovators and investors, that our region is making the transition to a clean and energy-efficient economy and reducing global warming pollution. 

Learn more about other businesses leading in the Pacific Northwest’s clean energy economy through our Business Partnerships Program. Have a business story of your own to share? Contact Chris Bast in Seattle, Washington, or Carrie Hearne, in Portland, Oregon.


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Author Bio

Carrie Hearne

former Oregon Business Partnerships Manager, Climate Solutions

Carrie Hearne served as Climate Solutions' Oregon Business Partnerships Manager. Carrie has lived in Portland for over a decade and originally hails from the mountains of West Virginia. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Earlham College in Indiana and sustainability certificates from the University of Oregon and Willamette University.

Carrie successfully created and ran the first sustainability program at The Standard, a financial services company headquartered in Portland, Oregon. This program attracted new customers, reduced operating expenses, increased employee engagement. She is a current member of the Climate Action Plan Steering Committee for the City of Portland and Multnomah County and has served on the board of directors for the Northwest Earth Institute (NWEI) since 2008. She is also on the advisory board for Women in Sustainability and the Environment (WISE). While at The Standard, Carrie was active on committees with the Oregon Business Association and the Portland Business Alliance, influencing public policy on matters relating to economic development, carbon reduction environmental sustainability and social equity. She has been a frequent guest speaker at regional business conferences such as Go Green Portland.

In her spare time, Carrie enjoys photography, cycling, baking and getting outdoors with her dog Timber.

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