5-Year Energy Conservation Plan, 30% Reduction in Energy Use
Albemarle County has taken great strides to reduce municipal energy consumption. We met our goal for the 5-Year Energy Conservation Plan to reduce consumption within our county buildings by 30% by 2012, which is about a 6% reduction each year. A 30% energy use reduction in Albemarle County buildings is equivalent to roughly $348,750 worth of reductions in the overall costs of our energy bills since the start of our program in 2006. We have saved over 286 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent material! To put these numbers a bit more in perspective, this is the carbon dioxide equivalent of filling 244 hot air balloons, planting 326 trees, and removing 214 cars from the roads for a year.
The plan began in 2006, when Albemarle County partnered with ENERGY STAR in an effort to drastically reduce the overall energy consumption in our municipal buildings. We adopted an Energy Management Policy signed by the County Executive, which included 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.
Environmental Best Practices Help Albemarle Take the LEED® and Earn Energy Star Certification
In June 2014, the Crozet Library was awarded the LEED® Silver Certification established by the U.S. Green Building Council. This achievement involved the library's implementation of green design and construction features, such as Construction Activity Pollution Prevention and Waste Management, Stormwater Management, Water Efficient Landscaping, Optimized Energy Performance, Recycled Content and Low-Emitting Materials, and Daylighting. These sustainable strategies help save money for families, businesses and taxpayers, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and contribute to a healthier environment for residents, workers, and the larger community.
The County Office Building on 5th St. earned the EPA's ENERGY STAR label for energy efficiency in October 2010. The McIntire Road office building had earned the label in in September 2008. This means that both of those buildings are in the 75th percentile or higher of Energy Star ratings and that they use at least 35% less energy than the average building of their size and use.
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 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 solar thermal system allows the storage of high temperature water with a smaller environmental footprint, increasing overall system efficiency.
Solar thermal systems were also installed at the Monticello and Hollymead fire stations due to funding through the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant. This grant also funded the purchase and installation of energy efficient LED parking lot lights at the McIntire Rd. and 5th St. office buildings, as well as the boiler replacement at the Court Square office building.
We have conducted energy audits, employed energy efficient technologies, and conducted training for employees on best practices.
Efforts to reduce energy consumption in County office buildings are ongoing and 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.