Cut energy use, cut costs
When Allegheny County, Pa., Housing Authority (ACHA) officials faced escalating energy costs and a frozen budget from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in the 1990s, they began planning to upgrade the energy and utility systems in all facilities. With little money to spend, officials turned to an energy performance contract that would pay for building improvements using the energy and operational savings from the upgrades.
In 1999, ACHA signed a $7.9 million, 12-year contract with Minneapolis-based Honeywell Building Solutions, to overhaul the heating and air conditioning, lighting, elevator controls and water fixtures in all the authority’s 3,000 units and 45 buildings. Since then, ACHA has completed five phases, the most recent of which installed new water meters in each unit of a newly rebuilt apartment complex. The new system replaces the “master-meter” system used at other ACHA properties, where the authority pays the water bill for the entire complex using a HUD allowance. If water use exceeds the allowance, the authority makes up the difference.
With the new individual-meter system, ACHA can pass the overage charges to the appropriate tenants, paying those who use less than their allotted amount. Data collectors can record water use from their cars without having to physically check the meters, and a new billing software system converts the meter data into bills.
All of the changes have resulted in significant water, electricity and heat savings. In the first year alone, ACHA saved more than 33 million gallons of water, 850,000 kilowatt hours of electricity and 50,000 cubic feet of fuel. Altogether, ACHA is saving more than $1 million annually, while making needed improvements to aging infrastructure. Its planned sixth phase — low-flow toilet installation in all units — is expected to save $145,000 annually. “Overall, we’re making sure people are comfortable inside their homes, and we’re helping them feel good about where they live,” says Frank Aggazio, ACHA executive director.
Energy-saving facility upgrades
Allegheny County, Pa.
Minneapolis-based Honeywell Building Solutions