Pierce County touts energy-efficient buildings

Pierce County has reduced energy use by 12.4 percent since 2009, saving taxpayers $858,000, according to county officials.

Staff in three Pierce County buildings will receive the “Biggest Energy Loser” award for 2011. The award comes from Pierce County Facilities Management’s Resource Conservation program, which is highlighting best practices in recognition of Sustainability Month.

One of the buildings receiving the award is Pierce County’s Main Jail, which replaced its 25-year-old HVAC system and updated inefficient lighting systems. These improvements reduced the building’s energy use by 8 percent, which is saving $36,250 annually in energy costs. Bob Hamilton, maintenance supervisor; Steve Smith, maintenance foreman; and Deborah Anderson, construction project manager will receive the award on behalf of staff.

The other award winners are Pierce County’s Environmental Services Building, which has reduced energy consumption by 10 percent, and the Meridian Habitat Community Center, which has cut energy use by 29 percent. Those successes are the result of energy-efficient capital improvements, operational changes by building operators and proactive staff efforts, according to Pierce County officials. Brian Ruda and Tom Cornwall will receive the award on behalf of the Environmental Services Building, and Derald Randall and John Howard will receive the award on behalf of the Meridian Habitat Community Center.

“This is a great example of how we can operate our government services more efficiently and reduce our impact on the environment,” said Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy. “Every member of the Pierce County staff is doing his or her part to save energy.”

In 2009, Pierce County set the goal to reduce energy use by 15 percent by 2015, and has been working to reach that goal ahead of schedule. This initiated efforts to establish benchmarks for buildings.

The three “Biggest Energy Loser” buildings saved more than $43,000 in energy costs in 2011. This is just a portion of Pierce County’s overall energy conservation savings, which is now totaling over $858,000 for the past two years.

“We hope that competitions like the ‘Biggest Energy Loser’ will promote energy conservation throughout Pierce County,” said Energy Conservation Coordinator Jessica Ludwig. “This is a competition with a serious goal: to implement energy-saving best practices and operational changes.”

Pierce County is celebrating Energy Conservation Week by helping you conserve energy at work and home through several efforts.

First, Pierce County is partnering with Tacoma Public Utilities to provide free light bulbs and information about residential energy conservation rebates so you can start saving energy right away. Stop by the County-City Building, first floor lobby, 930 Tacoma Ave., on Thurs., April 5 between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. to find out how Pierce County is working to reduce energy consumption and how Tacoma Public Utilities can help you save at home.

Second, each Pierce County building will have a new energy performance score posted in a visible area of the building. These scores provide information on how much energy the building uses compared to similar buildings. For more information about the building energy performance scores, visit http://www.co.pierce.wa.us/pc/abtus/ourorg/facmgmt/sustainability/energyefficiency.htm .

Finally, each season brings new opportunities for energy savings in your office, so find out what you can do this summer to stay cool, comfortable, and help Pierce County meet its 15 percent energy reduction goal. Here are the top three energy conservation measures that are making a huge impact:Turn off those lights — With summer on its way, we will have more opportunities to use natural daylight as much as possible. Turning out the lights when you leave an unoccupied space will also have more energy savings than most think. (Don’t forget the restrooms!);

Draw those shades — The glare of the sun on your office’s windows can instantly begin heating the room. By closing the blinds to block direct sunlight, your building does not have to work as hard to keep cool;

Keep your doors and windows closed — It sounds wonderful to have your window or exterior door open on a nice breezy day in the summer, but unfortunately it dramatically interrupts your building’s heating and cooling demands. By keeping our building’s exterior sealed whenever possible, we can see significant energy savings and help keep occupants more comfortable.