**Energy Update (February, 2010):
Albemarle County has taken great strides to reduce municipal energy consumption. Our overall goal is to reduce consumption within our county buildings by 30% by 2012. We are well on our way to achieve our goals. As of December, 2009 we have reduced our energy usage by 16% in county buildings. This has led to $186,000 worth of reductions in the overall costs of our energy bills since the start of our program. We have saved over 153 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent material! To put these numbers a bit more in perspective, this is the carbon dioxide equivalent of filling 130 hot air balloons, planting 174 trees, and removing 114 cars from the roads for a year.
5-Year Energy Conservation Plan
Albemarle County partnered with ENERGY STAR in 2006 in an effort to drastically reduce the overall energy consumption in our municipal buildings. We have adopted an Energy Management Policy signed by the County Executive, which includes sections such as standards for operating the heating ventilation and air conditioning system efficiently, and guidelines for employees on turning off lights, computers and other electronic equipment when not in use. Our goal is to reduce our overall energy consumption by 30% by 2012, which equates to roughly 6% per year. As of October 2008, we have reduced our overall consumption by 9.7% and saved $95,000 in energy bills. This is carbon dioxide equivalent of 75 hot air balloons, planting 100 acres of trees, and removing 65 cars from the roads for a year.
In September 2008 the County Office Building on McIntire Road earned the EPA’s ENERGY STAR label for energy efficiency, which means that this building uses at least 35% less energy than the average building of its size and use.
We have conducted energy audits, employed energy efficient technologies, and conducted training for employees on best practices.
The County Office Building has a green roof, which helps conserve energy by providing a more effective means of thermal insulation than conventional roofs. Better-insulated structures require less energy to heat and cool than those that are not comparably insulated.
Albemarle County recently installed a solar thermal system at its 5th Street County Office Building system to gather solar thermal content through roof-mounted collectors to supplement the existing hot water system so that less natural gas is used for heating water. It is estimated that as many as 206 gallons of hot water are used in the building daily, in part due to showers installed for use by police officers and firefighters. This new solar system allows the storage of high temperature water with a smaller environmental footprint, and also increases overall system efficiency.
Efforts to reduce energy consumption in County office buildings will directly support the County’s commitment to climate protection.
Learn more from the Department of Energy:
The Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy provides viewers with a large pool of educational information in regards to different renewable energy programs on their website. Their mission is to strengthen the United States’ energy security, environmental quality, and economic vitality in public-private partnerships. They work towards enhancing energy efficiency by bringing clean, reliable, and affordable technologies into the energy marketplace. The resources they have available for consumers work towards enhancing citizen’s energy choices and thereby working towards the enhancement of everyday quality of life.
Calculate your own Carbon Footprint:
Through the use of a carbon footprint calculator, one can estimate the amount of greenhouse gases that one’s everyday activity generates. There are many activities within the home and in the context of everyday life that can provide an unnecessary drain on energy such as excessively driving one’s car, forgetting to turn off light switches, and keeping appliances plugged in while not in use. The calculator below, created by the Environmental Protection Agency provides an estimation of one’s current household emissions and it also helps explore actions that one can take in their everyday life to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Not only is reducing greenhouse gas usage beneficial for the environment, but it can also save one money and time in the long run.
To calculate your footprint, click here.