This June, a storefront opened along a main drag of downtown Santa Rosa, California, with a unique goal: to educate local residents about the tools that contribute to a more energy-efficient life and offer support to buy and use them.
It’s called the Advanced Energy Center, and it’s a relatively new way to empower a community to take the steps necessary to combat climate change. This exhibition and demonstration center is also a training hub and referral office, where visitors can browse and interact with different energy-efficient technologies — from electric induction cooktops to heat pump water heaters — then find the right contractors to install those technologies and even get financial help to do it.
There have been over 1,200 visitors since its June opening, according to Chad Asay, the director of the Advanced Energy Center, who wants to cement this space as a trusted, go-to spot for residents and building professionals. “While there are many centers that focus on the deployment, or the market, or the education around these technologies, you will not see all that at one location like you will see at the Advanced Energy Center,” he says.
The history of the Advanced Energy Center goes back to the devastating 2017 Northern California wildfires, which took nine lives and destroyed 3,043 homes in Santa Rosa. Sonoma Clean Power, the public power provider for Sonoma and Mendocino counties, wanted to engage its customers — and the broader community — about rebuilding homes with efficient, low-carbon technologies and appliances.