Cutting Usage County-Wide: Several County-wide initiatives aim to decrease the use of electricity in facilities through simply cutting usage or improving efficiency. For instance, Property Management sent a memo to all county staff and tenants requiring the removal of personal appliances in County owned facilities. These measures not only have energy-saving impacts, but also safety and legal implications. In addition to the removal of all non-UL listed appliances from County buildings, consolidated “kitchen” areas in facilities have been remodeled and fitted with Energy Star rated appliances to increase efficiency. Though simple in nature, this replacement program has proved very effective. For example, the County replaced 39 Mr. Coffee-type coffee makers (reduced in quantity to just a couple), 19 refrigerators (also reduced to a couple of units), and 17 small space heaters (totally eliminated) on just one floor of the Government Services Center building in Duluth. This change alone represents an annual savings of $2500. Check out some of the other things employees can do to help the County save energy, money, and reduce our carbon footprint here.
High-Efficiency Lighting: The conventional incandescent light bulb works by heating a filament wire to a high temperature causing it glow and emit light. These bulbs are extremely wasteful, however, with some 98 percent of the energy input lost as heat. In order to phase out the inefficient incandescent lamps, Property Management made the switch to high efficiency lighting in all county facilities with the use of efficient T-8 fluorescent tube lighting, compact fluorescent lamps, light-emitting diodes (LED’s), among other more efficient options. The switch to high efficiency lighting has reduced county electricity use substantially, saving thousands of dollars in energy expenses.
Occupancy-Sensing Controllers: In addition to high efficiency lighting, energy use has been cut with the use of occupancy-sensing controllers in several County facilities. These devices conserve electricity by providing automatic ON/OFF switching, activating lights only when occupants are present in a room. In effect, lights are used only when necessary, providing long-term energy savings while also enhancing convenience and security. Property Management also implements the use of occupancy sensors in County buildings to minimize the conditioned air supply to rooms or offices when unoccupied, further improving energy efficiency and savings.
Increasing Natural Light: Day-lit buildings use substantially less energy by decreasing the demand for electricity by indoor lighting. Natural daylight is also shown to contribute to lowered operating costs, increased worker productivity, as well as the overall health and well-being of building occupants. Property Management makes an effort to increase daylight in county buildings through many means, including increased window area, sky lighting, as well as light colored paints and furnishings.
PC Controlling Software: The purchase of network PC controlling software has conserved considerable amounts of energy in County facilities by shutting off or putting to sleep approximately 2,000 PC units that previously ran 24 hours a day, year round. With a payback of only one year, the controlling software was a small investment with a big impact on energy costs.
Premium Efficiency Fan & Pump Motors: Energy consumption in buildings can be further reduced by the use of premium fan and pump motors. Even an increase of a few percentage points in motor efficiency ratings results in major energy savings, with paybacks as little as two years. County facilities such as the Public Safety Building have seen such savings with the installation of these efficient motors.
Solar/Wind Electricity Generation: One way to conserve electricity is to generate your own from renewable resources. Provided by nature in unlimited quantities, solar energy and wind can be harnessed in ways that convert their energy into useful electricity. Technologies such as photovoltaic (PV) panels and wind turbines have been implemented in some St. Louis County facilities as a supplemental source of electricity for the buildings. Although solar and wind power cannot meet a building’s energy demands alone, the advancement of photovoltaic and wind generation technology are making solar and wind an increasingly more reliable, affordable, and practical source of renewable energy.