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COH’s energy efficient building improvements paying off

$5.2 million savings per year

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The City of Houston’s efforts to reduce energy costs in city owned buildings is paying off, both environmentally and financially. The seven year effort is on track to break even in the coming years and will save the city millions over time. More on the plan’s effectiveness to date from the Houston Chronicle:

The energy and operational savings produced by upgrades to 87 city buildings, completed over the last four years, have averaged $5.2 million a year. That trend is beating officials’ original estimates, and, if it holds, will see the investments pay for themselves in about 10 years, more than two years sooner than projected.

“The savings is absolutely a win,” [Gilberto] Lopez [of the city’s General Services Department] said. “Is it a windfall, is it taking our breath away? We’re always looking in terms of, ‘Let’s clear the baseline and then we’ll celebrate everything else.’ But we feel very positive about the program.”

Another $8.2 million project to upgrade 18 libraries and two other facilities is underway and scheduled to finish in 2015. Those upgrades will save a projected $550,000 annually.

In addition to city leaders’ excitement over the budget savings, regional environmental groups are also pleased with the impact the city’s efforts are having now and into the future:

“A lot of older buildings are still wasting a lot of energy in terms of leaking insulation or outdated appliances, lighting and heating controls,” [Luke Metzger of Environment Texas] said. “They really are largely an untapped resource in terms of saving energy - and the more energy we save, that means power plants are running less and pumping less pollution out of the smokestack. It definitely has a huge impact in terms of cleaning up the air.”

Full story: Turning city government green is paying off
Source: The Houston Chronicle, December 27, 2014

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