Energy audit reveals potential utility bill savings

Posted 9/24/09

The City of Englewood’s effort to become more energy efficient moved up a notch as the city-hired company Ameresco completed the project to search …

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Energy audit reveals potential utility bill savings


The City of Englewood’s effort to become more energy efficient moved up a notch as the city-hired company Ameresco completed the project to search out and identify ways to reduce energy use by Englewood facilities.

The company conducted a technical inspection and assessment, called an energy audit, to evaluate the energy efficiency of all city buildings and facilities and provides recommendations for work to reduce energy use.

Deputy City Manager Mike Flaherty told the city council at the Sept. 21 study session that Englewood learned about the energy audit as the city joined a growing number of municipalities signing up with the Governor’s Energy Office for the program to reduce energy use.

He said that once the audit is completed and the city receives the recommendations, staff will evaluate the recommendations and data to decide if it is feasible to move forward with the energy-saving recommendations. The audit cost about $35,000 and that cost will be rolled into the costs for services if the city decides to establish an energy-performance contract to have the company proceed with the energy-saving recommendations.

The good news is the whole process isn’t supposed to cost the city anything. That’s because money from the expected reduction in energy costs is predicted to pay for the audit and energy performance contract.

In his Sept. 21 report, Flaherty said the audit of the Wastewater Treatment identified work that could produce a drop of about $220,000 a year in the utility bill and the audit turned up the potential for improvements that are estimated to produce annual utility cost savings of about $227,000 at the other city facilities.”

Flaherty said the savings could be used to used to pay for the recommended improvements to reduce energy costs. The suggested work at the wastewater treatment plant would cost about $1.8 million and the improvements for other city facilities would cost about $2.4 million. He said the payback would be over the next 15 years.

He noted city staff had located additional opportunities to become more energy efficient that could raise the estimated savings totals.

Council member John Moore asked if Flaherty could provide some of the recommendations that would produce significant energy-use reductions.

“One major improvement to reduce the utility bills is switching to energy-efficient lighting,” the deputy city manager said. “The change in bulbs and lighting fixtures provides a quick payback of the cost to make the changes.”

Mayor Jim Woodward said he had seen the impact of energy efficient lighting equipment when he was working with commercial office buildings.

He said, in one case, crews put in more energy efficient light fixture equipment and there was an immediate drop in utility bills and the savings repaid the investment in three to five years.

Flaherty said other audit suggestions are more efficient heating and air conditioning equipment as well as weatherization of buildings. He cited the example of how weatherization of portions of the Safety Services building could prevent the buildup of ice on the inside of the north wall during cold spells.

There was a discussion about the possibility of installing solar panels on city facilities to make the buildings more energy efficient.

Flaherty said solar panels are a possibility but added the equipment is costly and the payback is much slower because the city, as a governmental agency, doesn’t get the tax credit for solar equipment installation. However, working with the consultant, he said the city is exploring the information to see if there is an affordable way to add solar panels on city facilities.


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