Urban energy efficiency efforts: saving with retrofits and new designs.

Author:Evans, Eliza

Energy efficiency efforts in Alaska's urban areas are saving money and energy. Select schools in Anchorage, a library in Homer, a health center in Fairbanks, and the airport in Juneau are a few public success stories where savings are being realized through energy efficiency programs for new and existing infrastructure.

Anchorage Schools

Historically, energy costs have been a huge expense for the Anchorage School District (ASD)--second only to the cost of personnel. "In an environment where energy costs are increasing, while at the same time available revenue to run critical programs is in question, it is important to administer resources to maximum efficiency," says Andre Camara, Resource Conservation Manager (Energy & Waste Management) for Anchorage School District. "The US Environmental Protection Agency estimates that most organizations can reduce energy usage by 20 percent through reasonable resource-conservation efforts. Through basic changes in operations, maintenance, and individual behavior, it is expected that the ASD can achieve substantial reductions in energy use."

In five years, 2007-2012, according to Camara, ASD energy efficiency projects saved the district around $944,000.

* 2007-2008: Eight ASD schools participated in a Pilot Energy Conservation Program that centered on low to no-cost energy efficiency measures. These measures included steps like turning lights off, closing blinds at the end of the day, and ensuring arctic entry doors were kept closed. These efforts saved $114,000 in energy costs in one year.

* 2009-2010: ASD measured and tracked the energy usage of its schools in order to benchmark energy usage and determine which schools had the highest energy consumption. The twenty-seven schools with the highest energy usage were selected for an intensive energy efficiency program. According to Camara, over the nine months following the implementation of this intensive program, these schools decreased energy usage by over $300,000.

* 2010-2011: ASD introduced an incentive program that allowed some schools to receive 25 percent of their energy savings back. Fifty-two schools participated by implementing low or no-cost measures, saving a total of $530,000.

* 2011-2012: Alaska Housing Finance Corporation assisted twenty-six ASD schools to participate in Investment Grade Audits through funding from the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. These reports are now being used to determine ASD's future energy...

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