We'll start at the top….the top of City Hall. From the view up there, you see what's usually missed…like a blanket of solar panels on the roof of the Downtown Parking Gallery. We met the city's Environmental Service Administrator Jason Geddes right next to the 2 windmills on top of City Hall that have been churning out the watts, at least on windy days. Geddes told us, "If I hear the wind blowing at home, I hop on the computer and take a look to see what they're producing."
Even bigger savings came from the high-efficiency heating and cooling unit on the roof that does the job for all 16 floors. One floor below that is the latest, and stingiest, in boilers that don't squander a degree. Showing off the new boiler that doesn't look like a boiler, Geddes told us, "We have about 600 monitors throughout the building that check the temperature and provide feedback through a computer system."
There are solar thermal heating systems, lighting retrofits, an LED makeover on the Arch. Many of these changes would have been impossible a few years ago…now there's new technology like low-power lighting. The energy savings now are being used to pay-off the bonds, costing the city basically nothing.
And boy do the savings add up. The city has seen sizable drops in fuel-based energy usage over 4 years. Natural gas, a 30% drop. Electricity usage has been cut by 40% from 2008. It's almost a contest, to see just how many dollars they can knock off the city's power bill.
The quest for a rock bottom power bill began in 2008, the beginning of the Renewable Energy Initiative, paid for by federal grants, bonds and NV Energy rebates...$20 million in energy makeovers…$6.5 million in the city hall building alone. Where was the biggest payoff? Geddes said, "Lighting, and heating and air conditioning are the 2 biggest things. When you're looking at energy efficiency, you look at those things."
Still to come, the city plans on more LED streetlights. Jason even wants to change the blinds in the city hall building from vertical to horizontal to block more sunlight. He knows there's plenty of fertile ground for even more savings outside city government. As he told us, "I would encourage every commercial property to look at what they're spending and see what they can do to be more efficient and save themselves some money."
-written by John Potter
You can see the savings yourself, online. Reno's "Green Energy Dashboard" provides detailed information on solar and wind turbine systems that have been installed on city facilities. The dashboard displays the energy generated by the city's solar and wind systems. You can use this to plan and predict what you'll get if you install these at your home or business. Just click the link below:
Saturday, May 25 2013 2:16 AM EDT2013-05-25 06:16:04 GMT
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