Chipping Away at Energy Costs
After attending BOC Level I training, Steve Shadrick, facility operator for over twelve years for Beltrami County in Bemidji, MN and Facility Manager for the past four, started looking at ways to cut electrical and gas costs at the county’s administrative buildings. The result? He was able to implement a number of projects that would show Beltrami County a savings of over $82,500 for the year 2007, lowering his natural gas usage by over 45,000 therms and electrical usage by over 341,000 kWh.
Though upgrades were performed in three of the buildings, the main focus was the ten-year-old Community Services Center building, which houses many county departments along with numerous other non-profits and leasers. For the first project said Shadrick, “We installed a high-efficiency boiler that allows us to drop the boiler water temps below the normal 140 degrees we need to maintain with our other boilers. In doing this, we only heat the water to the degree needed to maintain a comfortable environment. We utilize this system mainly during the spring and fall, however we do run it during the winter and our remaining boilers are staged on as needed.”
Next on tap was the installation of a Honeywell direct digital control system that allowed them to reset the supply air temps leaving the rooftop units. Doing this eliminated the need to run a boiler during the summer months for supplemental heat, which had been done for the last ten years.
The third project completed was the installation of timers on all exhaust fans. In the past, these fans were running 24/7 and also exhausted out conditioned air the whole time – a significant waste of energy and, therefore, money. A smaller project was the installation of photo sensors on all exterior lights on buildings and in parking lots. In the past they had been controlled by timers that required seasonal adjustment manually. Say Shadrick, “Now we are not only saving energy by having better control, but have also lowered our labor costs by not having to reset timers several times a year.”
Shadrick gives high marks to his BOC training and its usefulness as a guide to productively examining his own facility. “In both Level I and Level II BOC programs, instructors stressed ways of reducing energy while still meeting occupancy needs. They give you realistic ways to help achieve your goals, which was a refreshing change from some of the other training sessions I’ve attended. After each level program finished, I had close to a page full of ideas to be researched to determine if they were good energy saving projects that would help improve our campus. Most of these items were implemented and we have seen a very significant cost savings in our operations.
“Even though I’m the one that puts new projects on the table, I know I have a great maintenance team that is now on board with our goals. We have made great strides implementing these projects. They see firsthand just how significant the cost cutting changes resulting from the work they do and how it benefits the county. In some cases we have actually lowered our work requests because people are more comfortable, which allows staff to concentrate on other projects.”