Following the work with PennTAP, I took a Building Operators Certification course funded by the PADEP, as did several other facility managers from local school districts and municipalities. After reviewing the report PennTAP provided us, the County Executive expressed an interest in looking into energy-efficient upgrades to our building. We identified an ESCO, and they conducted investment grade audits to give us an idea of opportunities for improvements, and we then selected from their list to implement. We received $24,500 in funding from the Penelec Sustainable Energy Fund to cover the full cost of the audits.
Over time, wear and tear, improper operation, lack of maintenance, and changes in use can lead to energy inefficiencies and increased operating costs in institutional, commercial, and industrial buildings. Facility managers and building operators need the tools, training, and networking to keep up with current best practices on Building Re-tuning (BRT), a low-cost approach to recommissioning a building to restore or exceed its original performance.
The PennTAP Connection
PennTAP’s Energy and Environment Team offers training and education intended to help those involved with building operations learn how to run facilities more efficiently and reduce operating costs.
Backed by a grant from the Department of Energy (DOE) State Energy Program and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP), PennTAP assembled a regional cohort of professionals working for K–12 schools and government facilities to conduct four hours of BRT classroom training followed by practical team-based walkthrough assessments of the participating facilities.
Brittany Prischak, Sustainability Coordinator for Erie County, selected the Erie County Department of Health building for evaluation. Four other regional facilities also participated. Since completing the program, Brittany’s team has subsequently initiated multiple energy conservation projects in the county’s Library, Health Department, County Prison, Public Safety, County Courthouse, and Office of Children and Youth buildings. These projects include lighting upgrades, new hot water boilers, variable frequency (VF) drives for motors, water efficiency upgrades to toilets, sinks, and showers, and installation of new chiller(s). In addition, equipment that was near the end of its useful life has been replaced. An Energy Service Company (ESCO) is helping to coordinate these efforts. The total energy and cost savings is estimated to exceed $240,000 per year.
Since the assessment, Erie County has seen annual utility savings of $296,000, following the first year of completion across six county owned and operated buildings. The utility savings were estimated at 74,000 Ccf of natural gas in the first year, just over 7.3 million gallons of water and about 2.2 million kWh of electricity.
The county buildings included in the project were: Erie County Courthouse, Erie County Department of Health, Erie County Department of Human Services, Erie County Prison, Erie County Public Safety, and the Blasco Memorial Library. Building projects included HVAC improvements, LED lighting retro-fitting, installation of variable frequency drives on motors, retro-commissioning existing equipment, and replacement of toilet valves.
About the Client
Erie County Department of Planning
150 E. Front Street, Suite 300, Erie PA 16501
Client Type: Government Facilities