City of Colorado Springs / Environmental Sustainability / News

City using ARRA funds for long-term energy efficiency
Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The City's American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA) Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) funds have started putting businesses and people to work.

In December and January you may have spied employees of The Base Group scaling the City Administration Building as they re-caulked windows and expansion joints (pictured)

City Administration Building caulking
City Administration Building caulking
  to reduce HVAC energy loads. Over the next two years, the City will spend nearly $1.7 million on energy efficiency retrofits at its facilities with the EECBG funds. The resulting decrease in energy costs is conservatively estimated to save $140,000 annually. Click here to watch a video about this project.

Another component of the funding is providing green job training opportunities while incentivizing energy efficiency improvements for local businesses. The City is partnering with Colorado Spring Utilities to match students from Colorado College, Pikes Peak Community College, and University of Colorado at Colorado Springs with local business and organization facilities. Farnsworth Group, an engineering and architecture firm, was awarded the contract to train and supervise the students. Last week, they began performing an energy audit at a Colorado Springs office facility. After the audits, students will also get hands-on training as retrofits are installed.

In 2003, the City began a very successful program to replace traditional traffic signal lights with LED lights. Another component of the EECBG funding will take this one step further via a pilot program to replace approximately 308 intersection and bridge traditional streetlights with LED streetlights. LED streetlights have been shown to use 55 percent less energy in some communities. Various LED streetlight technologies are currently being tested throughout the Pikes Peak Region. You can check out one of the styles being considered at the intersection of Nevada Avenue and Vermijo Street (pictured).

LED streetlights at Nevada and Vermijo
LED streetlights at Nevada and Vermijo

While most of the funds are being spent using outside contracts (visit the City's purchasing/contracting web pages to monitor these opportunities), EECBG funds are also allowing the City to hire two temporary positions.  Meghan Riesterer is the City's new energy efficiency services administrator who will see to energy efficiency retrofits, track the success of those retrofits, research new technologies, educate employees and work to develop a corporate culture of conservation over the next two years. In addition, Kendra Garner, an environmental science student at Colorado College is the City's new sustainability student intern.

Other projects being funded with EECBG funds include technical assistance with a City sustainability plan and low/affordable residential housing weatherization.

While these are currently one-time funds, the efficiency improvements will have long-term benefits reducing local energy demand.