Utility Update | City buildings get energy efficient upgrades
May 29, 2014 Leave a comment
On Thursdays, the Mayor’s Office of Transportation & Utilities (MOTU) posts a graphic, map, news, or research about utilities here in Philadelphia.
Greenworks Philadelphia, the city’s sustainability plan, set an ambitious target of reducing the energy consumption of municipal buildings by 10% below 2006 levels by 2015. The City is on its way to meeting this target due in part to the Quadplex Guaranteed Energy Savings Project, an initiative of the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability, the Department of Public Property, and the Mayor’s Office of Transportation & Utilities. The project, enabled by the Pennsylvania Guaranteed Energy Savings Act (GESA), uses the savings from increased building energy efficiency to pay for retrofits and other upgrades.
The Quadplex GESA Project has been in the works since late 2008, when the City issued an RFQ to select an energy service company to assist with the initiative. In late 2009 the City selected the energy service company Noresco to complete an energy audit, develop energy conservation measures, and to manage their implementation. In 2011, City Council passed ordinances enabling the project, and in May 2012 the City issued bonds to fund the improvements. Improvements to four of the City’s biggest energy users, known collectively as the “Quadplex,” (City Hall, the Municipal Services Building, One Parkway, and the Criminal Justice Center) will be finished by this summer.
Many of the upgrades are invisible to building users. These include improvements to boilers, steam pipe insulation, and HVAC drives and filters. In addition, the City has adopted new building control systems. These systems include web-based software that allows city staff to remotely monitor and manage, in real-time, building HVAC systems. Increased capacity to control HVAC is particularly important because building heating and cooling account for between 50-60% of Quadplex building energy use.
Some of the Quadplex upgrades are more visible to building users, such as the installation of low-flow water fixtures. In addition, those who enter the Municipal Services Building from the underground concourse may have noticed newly sealed doors. Visitors to City Hall who look up while in main building entrance vestibules can now see new LED lighting (as shown in the picture above).
In addition to cost savings, there are significant operational benefits associated with upgrading to more energy efficient building features. For example, LED lights require replacement far less frequently than traditional fluorescent light bulbs.
The results of the Quadplex GESA Project after only one year are overwhelmingly positive. The City saved $1.34 million dollars in energy costs in the first year of the program. The City used around $990,000 of this to repay the costs of the retrofits, leaving an additional $350,000, some of which will be put aside for additional repairs. All bonds will be completely paid for in 15 years.