Auburn Hills lands $200K to improve energy efficiency

With nearly $100,000 in grant money, and a near-equivalent amount in matching funds, the city of
Auburn Hills will be making its buildings more energy-efficient.

The
city was among communities that received a Michigan Energy Efficiency
and Conservation Block Grant for energy efficiency projects, sourced from federal
stimulus funding awarded by the Bureau of Energy Systems. For Auburn
Hills, that means new electrical meters, new lighting, an energy audit,
and an energy system that can be controlled remotely.

Dan Brisson, the city’s manager of facilities and roads, explains that the funds will be used on four phases, the first being lighting upgrades.
Afterwards, the city will work on upgrading its energy-management
system, for which an employee can log on via the Internet and view and
control temperatures and occupancy schedules from there. “It’s kind of a
programmable therm for home, but with a broader scope,” Brisson says.

The
administration building, for example, is currently made up of 17
different heating and cooling zones, so one side of the building could
be cool enough for heat while the other side is warm enough for the A/C.
Plus, if someone forgets to dial back the heat or A/C before leaving
for the day, that can be rectified from a computer.

Also to be
installed are individual electric meters on six of the city’s
facilities, which are currently connected to one meter. This will also
help measure how efficient each of the buildings are, explains city
water resources coordinator Shawn Keenan.

“That’s going to help
us better measure our energy use for each of those buildings, as it
works toward achieving energy efficiency goals the city has,” he says.

The funds will also be used for a more comprehensive audit on the city’s community center.

The
state funding received for the project was $97,553, with the city
matching almost as much. But Keenan estimated a savings of at least
$9,556 each year, as well as a reduction of 106,181 kilowatts and 90
tons of carbon dioxide annually.

“A lot of this work was planned
before the grant, and the grant is allowing us to do more, more
quickly,” Keenan says. “We share all of our ideas to come up with good
solutions that are really sustainable.”

Brisson hopes the
projects will be nearly wrapped up by the time temperatures start to
drop, so the city can take advantage of the new heating technologies.
Not only are the improvements good for the Earth, but they make good
business sense, too, he says.

“We have utility bills just like
the homeowner,” he says. “We don’t want to pay more for electricity if
we can make improvements. Anything we can do that makes economic sense
to reduce energy consumption and take a green initiative, we’re going to
try to do.”

Sources: Shawn Keenan, water resources coordinator and Dan Brisson, manager of facilities and roads, city of Auburn Hills
Writer: Kristin Lukowski