GJ to spend $2 million on energy efficiency

Grand Junction will sink more than $2 million this year into an array of projects intended to cut the city’s energy costs and make city buildings operate more efficiently.

Many of the 74 measures that will be implemented in 17 city buildings constitute work as simple as installing programmable thermostats, low-flow water fixtures and energy-efficient light fixtures, and calking and sealing windows and doors. But some are more complex and innovative, including a plan to inject a chemical into the Lincoln Park-Moyer Pool that will inhibit water evaporation and heat loss.

Officials say they expect to save $85,000 this year on energy costs and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 626 tons annually. The average payback on the projects will be 15 years, allowing the city to eventually recoup all of the money it’s investing up front.

“We’re excited to be moving forward on this,” said Kathy Portner, city neighborhood services manager and member of a staff committee that has been examining ways for the city to be greener the last few years. “It’s a great project for the city and the community.”

The city contracted with Johnson Controls Inc., a national company with an office in Denver, to perform a six-month energy audit of all city facilities. Officials identified buildings that still will be in use in 15 years and eliminated projects where the energy savings weren’t worth the up-front capital expenditure, Facilities Services Manager Jim Stavast said.

Johnson Controls and its contractors will begin construction on the projects in April. Workers will install energy-efficient heating and cooling systems, high-efficiency boilers and lighting systems equipped with censors that will shut off the light in a room when it’s unoccupied.

They’re also installing solar panels at Two Rivers Convention Center and the Visitor and Convention Bureau.

Stavast said the panels are meant to serve more as a demonstration of what can be done than as a major energy saver. But he noted there’s an ancillary benefit as well — the VCB and Two Rivers can use the upgrades as a marketing tool for conventions.

Perhaps the most innovative project is the liquid pool cover the city will install at the Lincoln Park-Moyer Pool. Officials will inject a chemical into the pool’s circulation system that will form a protective film on the pool’s surface, meaning the city will have to add less water to keep the pool full and spend less money to keep the water warm. The chemical stays diluted and is harmless as long as the pool is in use, Stavast said.

Construction on all the projects will be completed in about nine months.

As part of its contract, Johnson Controls is guaranteeing the city a minimum rate of return on its investment. If a project doesn’t yield as much energy savings as Johnson guaranteed, the company will cut a check to the city for the difference.

“It’s a no-lose on so many fronts,” Assistant Financial Operations Manager Jay Valentine said.

Approximately $325,000 of the $2 million project cost will be covered by a state grant and Xcel Energy rebates.


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