Township's Switch to Green Energies Expected to Save Thousands
Supervisor Mark Grabow has vowed to reduce the township's energy costs by 25 percent in 2011.
At his 2011 State of the Township address, Supervisor Mark Grabow introduced his plan to reduce the township’s energy costs by 25 percent, saving the township some $200,000 a year on its utility bill.
With the help of more than $600,000 in federal Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant funds, the township is already well under way in implementing greener and more cost-efficient technologies.
The premiere project, which will cost the township $177,000 up front, but result in an $80,000-$90,000 yearly savings in energy costs, is HVAC (heating, ventilating and air conditioning) control.
“We’re working on the HVAC control project now,” said Daniel Fairless, township building official. “We have eight buildings that we are currently (putting) online and hooking up new heating and cooling control wiring for, and with this new program that we are going to have, they will all be able to talk with each other.”
With HVAC control, the township will be able to greatly conserve energy and reduce maintenance costs in the town hall, recreation center, senior center, broadcast media offices and all four fire stations.
“We’ll be able to program set points at each building,” Fairless said. “So when a building or an area is not going to be occupied, we can program it back and conserve a lot of energy that way, instead of having these systems running all the time.”
Much like homeowners will program their thermostats to vacation settings, the township can program the temperature settings in these buildings.
“With the fire stations, they are not on any type of programmed system,” said Don Boza, a DTE-certified energy manager who was hired by board of trustees as a technical consultant and project manager. “All four fire stations are not manned 24 hours a day, so when those stations are not manned, we can now reset those building temperatures to reflect an unoccupied mode.”
Boza said in the past, township buildings have been heated or cooled without much attention to time of day or number of occupants. However, with HVAC control, not only can the temperature be controlled to reflect these variables, but it can be done off site through a computer.
Work has only just begun on the town hall and Fairless said the project is expected to continue into July.
“It’s the most time-consuming project that we have,” he said. However, it will significantly lower maintenance and energy costs and save the township more than $100,000 a year in utility costs.
A second project Fairless and Boza are leading for the township is the switch to LED lighting both on the interior and exterior of township buildings.
“We’ve already completed exterior walkway lighting (for the town hall and recreation center),” Fairless said. “The lighting projects that we’ve done and we’re moving forward on are moving toward more efficient lighting–LED lighting.”
Where the township previously used a combination of 175-watt and 250-watt metal halide lamps in exterior lighting, it has installed LED lights. The lifetime of these LED lights is around 70,000 hours, as opposed to the 10,000 hours offered by other technologies.
“Another big benefit we’ve found is with security cameras," Boza said. "The old lighting had a glare, but LEDs enhance the lighting and give a much better view at night compared to what we had before. We also know with the walkway lights we had, the majority of glass bulbs were cracked severely due to weatherization. They would need to be replaced. The LEDs have a plastic carbonate lens which reduces the weight on top of the pole and the cost of replacement is much cheaper.”
Boza estimates the township will see a 50-70 percent energy reduction with the LEDs, but said residents should not notice a difference in the amount of light given off.
“The payback time on all of these projects is relatively quick,” Fairless said. “I think anytime you can reduce costs, it’s important. And I think it’s the responsible thing to do for all the residents.”