Program Evaluation

The WSU Energy Program evaluates energy efficiency initiatives to provide funders with performance data and managers with feedback to improve their programs.

Current Projects

Community Energy Efficiency Program

We administer the Community Energy Efficiency Program (CEEP) to improve energy efficiency in neighborhoods and small businesses across Washington. Thousands of residents have already benefitted from this program. We meet regularly with CEEP team leaders to evaluate progress, fine-tune the approaches taken in each community, and ensure that as many people as possible benefit from energy-efficiency improvements. This work received initial funding from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) State Energy Program and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The 2012 Washington State Legislature provided additional funding so more state residents can participate.

Low-Income Weatherization Plus Health Program

The Weatherization Plus Health (Wx+H) initiative connects low-income weatherization services with occupant health and well-being. Washington is a national leader in integrating weatherization and Healthy Homes services to address asthma and respiratory health.

On the strength of this work and increasing awareness of the link between substandard housing and health, the Washington State Legislature in 2015 passed HB 1720, which expanded the focus of the Matchmaker Low Income Weatherization Program beyond energy efficiency to include healthy housing improvements. Commerce provided grants to eight local agencies and tribal housing authorities to establish community partnerships and deliver integrated weatherization and healthy homes services (profiles below).

We worked with Commerce’s Energy Division to report progress and outcomes through a series of reports:

Low-Income Weatherization Program

Our staff evaluates statewide weatherization programs administered by 26 community agencies that receive federal, state, and utility funding through the state Department of Commerce. We help Commerce build better data collection systems to assess program performance and improve management and operations.

Past Projects

Behavior Research

WSU researchers studied how decisions that affect energy efficiency are made when designing and constructing new office buildings. A similar research team looked at how residents responded to impending brownouts and blackouts during the 2001 California energy crisis. Their findings – that people voluntarily reduced energy use at peak times – helped convince stakeholders of the importance of incorporating behavioral tools into their energy-efficiency plans.

Building Performance Rating Project

This market transformation pilot project created a rating system for scoring the actual performance of commercial buildings. In the six buildings that were chosen for this project, we obtained input from the building owner/manager, occupants, and operations and maintenance service providers, and then conducted field tests of the proposed rating system tools. The 2009 final report, Development of an Operation and Maintenance Rating System for Commercial Buildings, includes score cards developed and tested by the project team.

Fuel Mix Disclosure Project

We designed, built, and maintained software and performed data analysis to support the fuel mix disclosure process, which directed electric utilities in Washington to report the mix of fuels used to generate the electricity they supply.

Post-Occupancy Evaluations

Working with the former state Department of General Administration, our staff designed and piloted guidelines to evaluate various aspects of building performance. The project was developed in response to the Washington State Legislature’s mandate that government facilities meet Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver standards.

Seattle Community Power Works Project

We served as a technical consultant for the Seattle Community Power Works project, which was designed to save energy in Seattle homes, businesses, and hospitals. This project used DOE dollars to leverage additional funding for maximum impact. WSU Energy Program staff monitored and verified results.

Other Program Evaluations

Our team helped assess the performance of three large energy efficiency initiatives: the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority’s New Construction Program, the Energy Trust of Oregon’s Path to Net Zero Pilot, and the Northwest Energy Efficiency Council’s BetterBricks program.


Our Staff

James L. Colombo

James L. Colombo is the Interim Director of the WSU Energy Program.

Colombo has over 45 years of experience providing technical service, support, and training to customers such as Washington state agencies, universities, citizens, management, and employees. He has considerable experience with project, program, and team leadership; strategic planning; budgets; and business development. Throughout his career, Colombo has excelled at providing customer-focused services to internal and external customers.

Before becoming the Interim Director of the WSU Energy Program on September 1, 2022, Colombo served as the manager of the Information Technology Department at the WSU Energy Program, and before that in the Washington State Energy Office since 1987, where he contributed significantly to energy programs, projects, and services for the state, region, and nation.

Prior to his service within energy organizations, Colombo worked for the South Puget Sound Community College and the King County Library System.

Sheila Riggs

Sheila Riggs is Assistant Director of the WSU Energy Program. She has served in this role since 2002. She has considerable communication, legislative, administrative, strategic planning, project management, and team development experience.

Riggs serves as the liaison for the WSU Energy Program to the Washington State Legislature, University leadership, and in various other forums. She has provided leadership to staff members engaged in client software and web development, information systems, bioenergy programs, alternative fuels and electric vehicle programs, farm energy, communications, library services, internal operations and administration, facilities management, and human resources.

Prior to her time with the organization, Riggs worked for the Washington State Department of Retirement Systems as the member communications and seminars manager and as the School Employees’ Retirement System communications manager. She was also a public information officer for the Washington State Department of Information Services. Prior to her state service, Riggs was a press secretary for a U.S. congressman and deputy press secretary for a U.S. senator in Washington, D.C. She also worked for the U.S. Department of State. Riggs holds two M.A. degrees – one from Washington State University in communications and the other from The George Washington University in international affairs.

Tanya Beavers

Tanya Beavers works with the Community Energy Efficiency Program and coordinates the annual Energy/Facilities Connections Conference hosted by the Plant Operations Support Consortium. She also provides executive support for other areas of the organization. Her professional background includes experience in marketing, financial services, and professional writing. She holds a B.A. in public relations with minors in business communication and Japanese from Central Washington University.

Matthew Booth

Matthew Booth brings expertise in community solar to the WSU Energy Program. Matthew previously served as a board member of Olympia Community Solar, where he advised on legal structure, developed incorporation documents, created internal structures, developed programmatic content, and created projects, which included winning and administering private and public grants. In this role he also managed financial documentation; budgetary needs; partner, donor and member relations; and the organization’s legislative agenda. Booth also developed and worked to pass significant legislative changes to the state’s renewable energy program. Successful community solar projects he helped bring to fruition include the Hummingbird and Sunflower community solar projects, the Solarize Thurston home solar group buying campaign, and several small-scale, grant-funded installations. Booth, an active musician/manager, earned a B.S. in renewable energy, sustainable business, and public policy from The Evergreen State College.

Erika Coveny

Erika Coveny supports renewable energy programs implemented by the WSU Energy Program, including the management of residential and commercial incentives for solar generation, incentives for low-income community solar projects, and tracking statewide net metering capacity. Before joining the Energy Program, Coveny’s professional experience includes over 12 years with the Snohomish County Public Utility District as the renewables program manager, business analyst, and customer service lead. Coveny also has experience in the nonprofit sector, where her responsibilities included qualifying low-income families for federal aid. She has a BA in English literature and writing from The Evergreen State College.

Donna Cowsert

Donna Cowsert serves as our management analyst/fiscal officer. With 30 years of experience in the accounting field, she provides financial/grants management services, and reviews and submits proposals. Cowsert assists with subcontract setup, submitting match documentation, and resolving grant issues with the sponsor, principal investigator, and university. Her prior experience includes serving as accounts receivable manager, responsible for building and coaching a team to effectively implement grants, contracts, and interagency agreements.

Chelsea Edgecombe

Chelsea Edgecombe is a data specialist for the WSU Energy Program, with experience entering and retrieving data across multiple applications to organize and analyze team performance metrics. Her professional history includes guiding, training, and mentoring a team of COVID-19 contact tracers; and running a pilot program for the Washington State Department of Health to perform daily wellness checks for cases and contacts. In addition, Edgecombe utilized her knowledge of DOH and local health jurisdiction protocols to implement frequent protocol updates. Edgecombe
studied mathematics at the University of Washington and earned an AA in physics from Tacoma Community College.

Alan J. Hardcastle

Alan Hardcastle is a Senior Research Associate at the WSU Energy Program. He has 30 years of experience providing leadership for quantitative and qualitative research and consulting projects with public/private-sector clients and stakeholders in industry, education, workforce and economic development. Hardcastle holds a Ph.D. in higher education and organizational change from the University of California, Los Angeles. He is an adjunct faculty member at The Evergreen State College, where he teaches a graduate course on clean energy.

Karen Janowitz

Karen Janowitz is a program coordinator at the WSU Energy Program. She has over 20 years of experience in project leadership and management; implementing, marketing, and managing energy efficiency and environmental programs; group facilitation; environmental education; communications; and administration. Janowitz holds a B.A. in geology from the University of Colorado and a Master of Environmental Studies from The Evergreen State College.

Jim Jensen

Jim Jensen is our senior bioenergy and alternative fuels specialist. He conducts research and provides up-to-date information and technical assistance about bioenergy and alternative fuels and vehicles. Jensen supports federal and state agencies, local governments, and private clients. His current research activities include biogas/biomethane, biodiesel, electric vehicles, and green fleets. He serves on the state’s multi-agency bioenergy team, the anaerobic digestion task force, the Alt Fuel/Vehicle Technical Assistance Group, and the Western Washington Clean Cities Steering Committee. During 20+ years of work in the private and nonprofit sectors, Jensen has provided technical assistance to businesses in dozens of industries, assisted corporate social responsibility programs, and supported new green technologies and products. His technical knowledge and experience encompass research, development, and implementation of projects in the voluntary carbon market, renewable energy, recycling, waste prevention, anaerobic digestion, and composting. Jensen holds a B.A. from Grinnell College, Iowa.

Jonathan Jones

Jonathan Jones leads the energy code technical assistance team and the Home Energy Raters team for the WSU Energy Program. Among his responsibilities in these roles, Jones creates and delivers trainings about the energy code for a wide audience across Washington, and manages the Home Energy Rater Providership Program. His experience as a general contractor, real estate appraiser and broker, residential solar PV installer, and design/drafting specialist for contractors gives him an authentic, real-world perspective that our clients appreciate. Jonathan has been a member of the Home Builders Association of Tri Cities and myriad certification programs including the DOE Zero Energy Ready Home, ENERGY STAR Homes, Washington State Built Green, and EPA’s WaterSense and Indoor airPLUS programs.

Gary Kaufman

Gary Kaufman is a technical support specialist for the WSU Energy Program. With 40 years of cross-functional experience in business strategy, operations, and product and project management in the private and public sectors, Kaufman currently works as the project manager and administrator for WSU’s Home Energy Rating Program, as well as providing technical support for our role as the U.S. Department of Energy’s Northwest Combined Heat and Power Technical Assistance Partnership lead, and other collaborative energy efficiency improvement efforts in the WSU Energy Program portfolio. He holds a B.A. from The Evergreen State College.

Robert Kirchmeier, P.E.

Bob Kirchmeier is the senior grid modernization engineer for the WSU Energy Program. As a Professional Electrical Engineer with over 40 years in the field, Kirchmeier provides a wealth of expertise to our renewable energy program area, where he continues to provide technical support to the Washington State Energy Office for the state Clean Energy Fund, and emerging programs for clean energy transformation. Previously, Kirchmeier was the technical lead and project manager for the Clean Energy Fund with the state Dept. of Commerce. His responsibilities included developing solicitation documents, managing the evaluation and selection process, and negotiating and administrating performance contracts for projects implemented by the largest and most progressive electric utilities and research institutions in Washington. He assisted those entities with design criteria, permitting, procurement, installation, testing, and evaluation of technical and economic performance of energy storage assets deployed on utility distribution systems and behind-the-meter applications. Kirchmeier also provided technical and project management support for several other grid modernization, transactive energy, and battery system R&D programs for projects with Pacific Northwest National Labs, UW, WSU, BPA, Avista, Puget Sound Energy, Snohomish PUD, Seattle City Light, Energy Northwest, and others. He has a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Seattle University.

Gilbert McCoy, P.E.

Gil McCoy, a registered Professional Engineer, is a senior energy systems engineer with the WSU Energy Program. He provides technical assistance and energy auditing services to industrial and public sector clients. McCoy’s areas of expertise include optimization of industrial systems (motor/drive, compressed air, steam, combined heat and power, and pumping). He served as lead engineer for development of software products including MotorMaster+ (motor energy management), International Motor Selection and Savings Analysis, AirMaster+ (compressed air system assessment), and BallastMaster (lighting system/ballast selection) software. McCoy is a U.S. DOE Qualified AIRMaster+ Specialist and a Qualified Steam Tools and Process Heating Specialist. He holds a B.S. in metallurgical engineering from the University of Washington and a M.S. in engineering from the University of California, Berkeley.

Michael Pierson

Michael Pierson is an information technology support specialist. He is the primary contact for technical support for all outside client networks contracted by the WSU Energy Program. Pierson also supports the Energy Program’s day-to-day operations and works with the network administrator to upgrade network architecture and servers.

Gerry Rasmussen

Gerry Rasmussen has served as the graphic designer for the WSU Energy Program since January 2004. He is instrumental in keeping the program’s logos, publications, and presentations looking consistent and professional. Rasmussen retired in 2003 after 33 years as a graphic designer in state government, starting at the Washington State Library and ending his tenure as the manager of the graphics unit at the Washington State Department of Transportation, where he designed ferry schedules, highway map covers, scenic byway signs, and even grain hopper rail cars. He continues to freelance, lending his graphic design expertise to clients in both public and private industry. Rasmussen holds a B.A. in fine arts/graphic design from WSU.

Carolyn Roos, Ph.D.

Dr. Carolyn Roos is a mechanical engineer with over 25 years of experience improving energy efficiency in industrial and building systems, specializing in developing Excel-based applications for engineers and contractors. She provides technical assistance on commercial and industrial energy system efficiency and renewable energy projects. She also provides technical support to the U.S. DOE Northwest Combined Heat and Power Technical Assistance Partnership, focusing on CHP, biopower, and waste heat to power applications. Roos previously worked as an energy management engineer at Puget Sound Energy, where she performed energy efficiency analyses for commercial and industrial customers, and at the Army Corps of Engineers Hydroelectric Design Center. For her doctorate in systems science and mechanical engineering, she developed software to simulate simultaneous heat and moisture transfer in building environments. For her M.S. in mechanical engineering, Roos developed software to aid in the design of high-temperature solar concentrating furnaces.

Vince Schueler

Vince Schueler is a program and system analyst with over 30 years of experience providing customer research, performance management, process improvement program evaluation, policy analysis, and strategic planning in state government and the private sector. He has a practical, result-oriented focus on energy efficiency and resource conservation. Schueler holds an M.B.A. in quantitative methods from the University of Washington and a B.A. in urban studies from the University of Maryland. He also earned a Lean Six Sigma Certificate of Achievement from Villanova University in 2008 and completed training at the Northwest Public Health Leadership Institute.

Jason Selwitz, Ph.D.

Jason Selwitz is a budding energy engineer with the WSU Energy Program. Over the last ten years, he has focused on applied energy systems training through the Washington community and technical college system. He has developed, refined, and taught courses in fluid dynamics, pump applications, wastewater treatment, plant operations, water and environmental chemistry, climate science, and the bio- and thermal-chemical conversion of biomass. Selwitz managed a $2.9 million USDA-funded effort that helped determine the techno-economic feasibility of an advanced renewable fuels and chemicals industry in the Pacific Northwest. He has a B.S. from Pennsylvania State University and a M.S. in regenerative studies from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. He completed his Ph.D. in engineering science from WSU focused on the scientific and engineering processes of renewable energy, power generation, wastewater treatment, and integrated biorefinery systems.

Melinda Thiessen Spencer

Melinda Spencer is the technical education and outreach specialist for the Green Transportation Program. Emphasizing plain language and user-centered design, Spencer has worked since 1984 as a technical writer and editor, stakeholder involvement specialist, instructional designer, web content developer, and health risk communication specialist at Superfund sites. She holds a B.S. in biology/pre-med from the University of California, Davis; a master's degree in technical and scientific communication from Miami University, Ohio; and a master's degree in international peace studies from Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland.

Mike Steele

Mike Steele is an information technology specialist responsible for maintaining day-to-day operations of the computer network, assisting staff with technical issues, offering training on new technologies and tools, and serving as a primary network support for several of the WSU Energy Program’s outside clients. Steele has a B.S. in computer engineering technology from DeVry University.

David Van Holde, P.E.

David Van Holde, a registered Professional Engineer and Certified Energy Manager, is Director of the U.S. DOE’s Northwest Combined Heat and Power Technical Assistance Partnership and a Senior Energy Systems Engineer with the WSU Energy Program. David leverages more than 27 years’ experience working with utilities, government agencies, and consulting firms to implement innovative supply and demand-side energy solutions, and lead organizational change in support of advancing sustainable energy systems. His areas of expertise include combined heat and power and other distributed energy systems; government/utility energy policy, energy efficiency technology development, and utility program design. Before joining WSU, he served in leadership positions with Seattle City Light, King County Dept. of Natural Resources and Parks, E Source, EMI Consulting ,and SBW Consulting. In an earlier career, David was a mechanical CAD systems researcher for Tektronix and taught mechanical engineering courses at Oregon State University and Portland State University. David holds an M.S. in mechanical engineering from Oregon State University and a Bachelor of Engineering from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, N.Y., both with concentration in Energy Systems.

Anne L. Whitney

Anne Whitney is a librarian with over 30 years of experience in the library field, including positions as cataloger, indexer, library information specialist, head of a cataloging service, cataloging instructor, and art college librarian. Currently, Anne researches and writes materials for the Solar Plus program, produces the weekly Solar Newsbriefs publication, and applies her eye for detail to support the renewable energy incentive program. Whitney holds an M.A. in art history and an M.S. in information and library science from Case Western Reserve University.

Laurie Wingate

Laurie Wingate has been the information systems coordinator for the WSU Energy Program since 1997. She purchases and inventories computer hardware, software, and supplies for the organization, and provides technical support for office printers.