In order to reduce carbon emissions, the EPA’s National Action Plan for Energy Efficiency established a goal of achieving cost-effective energy efficiency in U.S. homes and buildings by 2025. This includes municipalities.
Since energy costs can account for as much as 10 percent of a local government’s annual operating budget (U.S. DOE, 2005), improving the energy efficiency of municipalities is an effective strategy for not only reducing a municipality’s carbon footprint but its overall expenditures as well.
In order to affect this energy efficiency, planners need to concentrate on areas where the most productive improvements can be made. The three major energy sinks of municipalities are buildings, water and sewer, and street lighting.
For a typical building, energy represents 30 percent of variable costs and constitutes the single largest controllable operating cost (National Action Plan for Energy Efficiency, 2008).
Additionally, compared to a conventional building, the lifetime energy cost savings produced by an energy-efficient building can reach millions of dollars. Modifications to buildings such as installing energy-efficient lighting, windows, and heating and cooling equipment will reduce the amount of energy consumed.
According to numerous studies:
WATER AND SEWER
Wastewater plants and drinking water systems can account for up to one-third of a municipality’s total energy bill, so improving energy efficiency in these areas represents yet another opportunity for large cost savings.
With pumps, motors, and other equipment operating 24 hours a day and seven days a week, water and wastewater facilities can be among the largest consumers of energy in a community—and thus among the largest contributors to the community’s total budget and greenhouse gas emissions.
Of course, local governments can—and should--reduce energy use at water and wastewater facilities through measures such as water conservation, water loss prevention, storm-water reduction, and sewer system repairs to prevent ground-water infiltration.
However, there are opportunities for improving energy efficiency in these facilities and they fall into three basic categories: 1) equipment upgrades, 2) operational modifications, and 3) modifications to facility buildings.
Our engineering partners perform a no-cost energy assessments that identify waste in all these areas, and provide you options for reducing that waste.
Advancements in lighting industry technology and reductions in the cost of LED fixtures make retrofitting outdated street lights with LEDs a wise investment. A city-wide retrofit will result in substantial energy cost savings and reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. Additionally, the long life span of LED fixtures result in reduced maintenance and repair costs as LED street lights can last for decades.
But just as many municipalities understand the huge energy savings that can be realized over time by replacing antiquated lighting systems, they have consistently been hesitant to proceed due to the high initial outlays.
Municipalities that install new lights are required to pay large upfront costs for material so regardless of the long-term benefits, updating is not always financially feasible. Municipal budgets just don’t allow for it, and many taxpayers are unwilling to pay more now for future benefits. Our plan allows municipalities to pull those costs forward and use the realized energy savings to painlessly pay for them.
The municipal energy budget remains essentially the same and at the end of the payoff period, the municipality enjoys the energy savings.
Energy savings and a reduced carbon footprint are not the only reasons to convert to LED lights. Many of the older high pressure sodium (HPS) lights are no longer being made, so the conversion will have to take place anyway as existing units reach the end of their serviceable lives. Since LEDs emit directional white light and HPS lights emit scattered yellow light, it is preferable to have all new lights than a mixture of old and new.
Our engineers can provide your municipal board with an assessment that identifies your energy waste and suggest tailored remedies tailored to address that waste without affecting your budget.