By Betsy Dolan
‘Tis the season for gift giving and the City of Sugar Land is giving taxpayers an early present–more than $85,000 in savings from energy efficiency improvements to city facilities. The savings exceeded the City’s earlier projections by almost $20,000.
In 2010, Sugar Land was awarded a $780,000 grant from the Department of Energy. The money was part of a $2.7 billion block grant program, funded under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to encourage communities to reduce fossil fuel dependency and convert to energy-efficient technologies.
McKinstry Essintion, Inc. was hired to design and construct improvements that primarily included interior and exterior lighting changes at nine of the City’s largest facilities as well as building automation enhancements at Sugar Land’s police and municipal courts facility. The work was completed in 2011.
“The grant money allowed us to change out the interior and exterior light bulbs and ballasts in our larger facilities and it made a substantial difference,” said Mike Leech, Assistant Public Works Director. “It sounds very simple and basic but we are seeing just how far lighting technology has come in terms of energy consumption.”
In addition, Leech said, McKinstry installed a targeted temperature control system that monitors all of the larger H-VAC systems in order to make sure that they are functioning at optimum energy efficiency.
“The system can adjust the temperature inside the facilities in off-peak hours so we aren’t running the system when no one is in the building,” Leech said. “And then it is smart enough to adjust the temperature 30 minutes before people get to work to make sure it is sufficiently cool inside.”
The performance contract with McKinstry guarantees a 100 percent return on the City’s investment over 15 years. If Sugar Land does not realize $64,102 in annual savings each year for the next 15 years, the contractor must reimburse the City for the shortage or replace the necessary equipment to meet the performance requirements.
“Going forward, as equipment wears out, we’re going to get more energy efficient systems,” Leech said. “This is how we are going to do business from now on because we want our return on investment to be as high as possible so we’ll put in green equipment whenever we can.”