Switching out energy sources
Battle Creek, Mich., is improving its building infrastructure, reducing expenses and decreasing its impact on the environment through a series of energy efficiency measures using renewable resources and traditional conservation techniques.
Following recommendations from Rebuild Michigan, a state Department of Labor and Economic Growth initiative that promotes energy efficiency in municipal facilities, Battle Creek conducted an initial energy audit in 2007 to identify improvements that would decrease the city’s energy consumption. The city then contracted with Morris Township, N.J.-based Honeywell International to add to the audit and implement a comprehensive program.
At the heart of the program is a boiler that is fueled each year by more than 22 tons of sawmill scraps, which are heated until they become a synthetic gas. The boiler provides up to 90 percent of the heating load for city hall and the police department building next door, and it gives the city a carbon-neutral means to heat both facilities. As a result, more than 40 percent of the energy consumed by the buildings is coming from a renewable energy source. Two natural gas boilers also were installed for a second stage of heating when needed and as a backup system.
Additional building infrastructure improvements included heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) upgrades, water conservation improvements, lighting retrofits and humidity controls in city hall to improve air quality. To further reduce energy use, the program also upgraded more than 55 traffic and several hundred pedestrian lights in the downtown area from incandescent bulbs to light emitting diodes (LEDs) that will use 85 percent less energy.
The annual savings that result from the infrastructure improvements, which are guaranteed by Honeywell for 15 years through a performance contract, are paying for a significant portion of the work. Initially, annual energy and operational savings for the city were estimated at $190,000. In 2009, Battle Creek actually saved $271,535.
The conservation program is reducing energy costs in the affected facilities by more than 30 percent. And, the decrease in energy consumption is curbing more than 2.1 million pounds of carbon dioxide emissions annually.
Project: Energy conservation, alternative energy generation
Jurisdiction: Battle Creek, Mich.
Vendor: Morris Township, N.J.-based Honeywell International
Date completed: March 2008
Cost: $4.3 million