Energy-efficient upgrades touted at gathering

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Sustainability group hears about park district improvements

By Sandy Barnes

The Evergreen Park and Recreation District will save $45,000 a year through energy-efficient upgrades to facilities, Executive Director Scott Robson said while speaking to the Evergreen Alliance for Sustainability on Oct. 11.

Although there is a 20-year payback for the $750,000 project, the long-term rewards are significant and guaranteed, Robson said. 

Steve Ruby of McKinstry, contractor for the project, said the single largest component of the work was replacing aged heating, ventilation and air-conditioning equipment at the Wulf Rec Center swimming pool. Two high-recovery units that pre-heat incoming air are being installed as upgrades. Replacing the user interface with space-controlled heating capability will also increase efficiency, Ruby said.

Other upgrades include replacing incandescent lighting with compact fluorescent fixtures and adding ceiling insulation and weatherization to buildings. Placing aerators on faucets also will improve water use efficiency, Ruby said.

In the pool area, lights are no longer hanging directly over the pool, having been relocated to the edge of the ceiling, he noted.

McKinstry will monitor the facilities after the work is completed to ensure that the projected savings are being realized, Ruby said.

“We work on open-book cost return,” he said. “We will come back and check on performance.”

In addition to annual savings, Xcel Energy is providing a $43,000 utility rebate for the project, Ruby added.

While creating savings for the park district, the improvements will also add to patrons’ comfort at the facility, said Robson.

“This is a big deal, and a right place to spend taxpayer dollars,” he said. “This is something that is dear to my heart.”

Responding to a question about not adding solar energy, Robson said, “PV panels did not make financial sense.”

The park district did get a loan for the project and also drew from its capital improvement fund, he noted. If there is future expansion of the Buchanan Rec Center, photovoltaic panels could be a possibility.  PV panels convert energy from the sun into electricity.


‘A smart business investment’

Ginny Ades of Step Ahead Energy Efficient Consulting also talked about the advantages of energy-efficient upgrades to commercial buildings, which use a hefty portion of energy in the United States.

Commercial buildings consume 39 percent of energy used in this country and account for 70 percent of electrical power usage and 39 percent of total carbon emissions, she said, quoting 2005 data from the U.S. Building Counsel.

Upfront costs for energy-efficient upgrades can be offset with loans, and paybacks can begin in less than four years, Ades said.

“It’s a smart business investment,” she said.

During the meeting held at the Evergreen Fire Rescue auditorium, Rachel Emmer, interim executive director for EAS+Y, thanked Robson for the support the park district has given the organization’s community garden project at Buchanan Park.

Robson expressed enthusiasm for the project, which will be funded through an anticipated Great Outdoors Colorado grant.

“That will be a great extension of partnership between the EPRD and EAS+Y,” he said.

Robson also voiced support for EAS+Y’s efforts to reduce the amount of waste generated at events. Recycling and composting will become more of a mandate in 2013, he said. 

“We’re going out to bid for recyclable materials,” Robson said. “We would love to see EAS+Y be our official partner.”


Contact reporter Sandy Barnes at sandy@evergreenco.com or call 303-350-1042.