11/29/10 — Wayne County receives grants to improve energy efficiency in county buildings

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Wayne County receives grants to improve energy efficiency in county buildings

By Steve Herring
Published in News on November 29, 2010 1:46 PM

Wayne County has received $273,941 in federal stimulus money that will be used to improve energy efficiency in several county-owned buildings.

Work is under way to draft the specifications for the projects that could be ready for bid by the first of the year, said county Facilities Director Sue Farmer.

Improvements to lighting fixtures and to heating and air-conditioning units are seen as ways to build on other energy and cost-cutting measures already in place -- including a four-day work week for most county departments and an engine-idling policy for county-owned vehicles.

The money actually represents two grants through the state's Energy Program Energy Efficiency for County and Municipal Buildings.

The first is for $199,100, of which $66,816 are funds from Progress Energy's incentives for lighting projects.

The second grant is for $74,841. The application was a joint venture between Wayne County, the town of Knightdale and Lee County Schools.

Ms. Farmer said that the unique joint application made it possible for each group to obtain funds that individually they would not have qualified for.

It is too early to say how much money the county will save once the improvements are made, she said. But it will be "a big savings," she added.

Ms. Farmer said she became aware of the grants through contacts in state government while she was searching for ways to make the county's buildings more energy efficient.

The work will include replacing all of the four-bulb lighting fixtures with two-bulb units in five different buildings -- the county courthouse, county office building, Sullivan Building, county administrative building and the library on East Ash Street.

"You get the same quality of light, but use a lot less energy," she said. "This is a quick-and-easy change and will make a nice impact on energy consumption."

Additional work at the Sullivan Building will include replacement of an old steam heating system with a new energy-efficient unit.

The library and the county animal shelter also will serve as pilot locations for another project. New digital control panels will be installed at both locations.

The panels will allow heating and air conditioning to be controlled by a computer thereby eliminating the need for people to adjust the thermostats.

This will allow the temperature to be adjusted based on what rooms are being used, she said.

Also, occupancy sensors will be installed in the buildings that will turn room lights off if there is no movement in the room after a set amount of minutes since people have a tendency to walk in and out of rooms without turning off the lights, Ms. Farmer said.