What are the Wrench of the Year Awards?

The Wrench of the Year awards are two, $500 cash awards that will be given to the individuals that best exemplify the spirit of hard work, hands-on responsibility, and determination that resulted in the successful implementation of an energy efficiency project in 2017 or 2018. Specifically the award targets on-site facility personnel that are often overlooked in major efficiency projects but whose hard work and attention are key to the successful implementation and persistence of the project. The awards are direct funds that can be used in any fashion by the recipient.

Who is Eligible for the Award?

While many personnel in an organization – from the president of a company, through the project management, engineering teams, and consultants – contribute to a successful efficiency project, it is the day-to-day site personnel that are integral to a project’s ongoing success. The award committee seeks candidates that are employed in a facility management or maintenance capacity on a full time basis. Candidates will be judged on their direct contribution to the implementation of the work and subsequent maintenance of the project to ensure its continued success. (Note: AEE membership is not required.) Detailed award criteria used to assess applicants is available here.

How are the Winners Selected?

The AEE CRC has drawn together a select committee of judges from experts in the energy engineering and energy management fields. These judges have many years of experience in energy efficiency projects and can assess across commercial, industrial, or residential sectors with an understanding of what it takes to complete difficult jobs. Additionally, past recipients may be invited to the participate on the Awards Committee.

When is the Deadline for Nominations?

Nominations will be accepted until 5:00 pm PST November 16, 2018. All nominations must be submitted via email. All emails or applications must be time stamped by this date and time. No applications will be accepted by mail. Please do not call by phone.

How do I Nominate?

Please download and fill out the application form and send it to The committee will review the applications and make follow up calls or emails as necessary.

Wrench of the Year Award – Criteria

Nomination Deadline

5:00 pm PST November 16, 2018

Award Purpose

The Wrench of the Year (WOTY) award is intended to recognize the achievements of individuals that implement significant and meaningful efficiency improvements that reduce the amount of energy (electricity, natural gas, fuel oil, purchased steam, etc.) used within the nominee’s worksite. Each year two awards will be given to recognize energy efficiency professionals in our chapter’s territory. Each award will consist of $500 cash and a recognition plaque.

Eligible Professionals

Awards shall be available to individuals who are employees in facility management at a commercial or large residential building, industrial site, or other large site or campus where significant energy management actions were implemented by the individual during the award year. Typically the nominee will be directly involved in the operation of energy consuming systems or equipment.

Geographic Boundaries

The primary work site of the nominee and the relevant energy efficiency improvement project(s) shall be within the geographic boundaries and area served by AEE Columbia River Chapter. Generally that includes Oregon, Southwest Washington and Idaho.

Award Criteria

The WOTY award committee members shall review all complete award applications submitted in accordance with applicable deadlines and shall use the following criteria as guidance in selection of the final award winner(s). Although preferred, not all criteria must be met to receive the award.

Nominee shall:

  • Be a direct employee of the company that owns and operates the systems or equipment that was made more energy efficient.
  • Have been directly responsible for operation and oversight of the systems or equipment that was made more energy efficient.
  • Have clearly demonstrated the work they were responsible for that separates their effort from the usual expectations for a similar role or position in a similar setting.
  • Provide documented evidence of the energy and operating expense reduction. Energy units may include kWh, therms, Btu, Gallons of Oil, etc.
  • Provide context for the significance of the savings value in comparison to total company or site expenditures on energy.
  • Have demonstrated persistence and commitment to their efficiency idea or measure and seen it through to completion. If the end result was not as expected they shall have clearly documented and described what they learned from the experience and how that knowledge can be applied in subsequent projects.
  • Have provided credible and reasonable independent verification of the reduced energy consumption.
  • Have provided valuable input to management/engineering; showed an ability to critique, improve and communicate to ultimately arrive at a more successful project
  • Have continued to remain engaged with the project and monitor its ongoing success

2017 Wrench of the year – Dale Wernicke, North Pacific Paper Company, Longview, WA

Dale Wernicke was recognized for his role in coordinating a team that implemented 69 separate efficiency measures over a 9 month period that collectively improved the energy performance in the North Pacific Paper Company mill in Longview, WA. Their approach involved collection of operational data and specifications from major energy consuming systems and components, modification to operational parameters, staff and employee communication and engagement, ongoing monitoring of energy consumption and diagnostic activities to correct deviations, all while ensuring downtime and interruptions to production were minimized. This work led to an energy savings in excess of 15,000,000 kWh since May 2016. 

2017 Wrench of the year – Jenson Storm, Henningsen Cold Storage, Salem, OR

Jenson Storm was recognized for his relentless pursuit of energy efficiency in the Henningsen Salem 1 Cold Storage Facility. Through his deep knowledge of cold storage system operations he was able to identify opportunities that included improvements to dock heating, freezer doors, exhaust fans and system commissioning. In addition, Jenson earned the CRES (Certified Refrigeration Energy Specialist) credential from the Refrigeration Engineers and Technicians Association (RETA). This work has allowed the facility to operate at a level that is 75% more efficient than comparable cold storage facilities.

2015 Wrench of the year – Don Eaton, Darigold Portland

Don Eaton was nominated for overseeing the implementation of Darigold’s new compressed air dryer, taking it upon himself to work closely with vendors on installation and proper functioning of a highly complex system, including correctly diagnosing and resolving multiple system level issues.

2015 Wrench of the year – Dan Wagner, Brentwood

Dan Wagner spearheaded the purchase and implementation of an innovative controls package that not only displaced the costly purchase of an additional dust collection system, it reduced the annual system energy consumption by over 56 percent.

2014 Wrench of the Year – James Ogan, Oregon Military Department

James was recognized for his work with the Oregon Military Department at the Lane County Readiness Center. His actions resulted in the successful realization of energy savings at a high performance commercial/industrial building. Through a willingness to work closely with the facility and undergo self-training to better understand the systems and controls, James demonstrated the willingness to go above and beyond his basic responsibilities to ensure the success of the project.

2014 Wrench of the Year – Jeremiah Pruitt, BrucePac

Jeremiah was recognized for his work at BrucePac, where he helped optimize the facilities ammonia refrigeration system through the ROC program. He was engaged through the process, which was integral to keeping the operation of the system on track. Jeremiah coordinated both internal staff and external consultants to help ensure success of the project.