With the summer months fast approaching, energy savings has become a hot topic for many people. The Butler County Commission, having approved an energy conservation audit with Schneider Electric for the Butler County Detention Facility, welcomed representative Paige Burk to discuss the audit’s findings on Monday morning.

With the summer months fast approaching, energy savings has become a hot topic for many people. The Butler County Commission, having approved an energy conservation audit with Schneider Electric for the Butler County Detention Facility, welcomed representative Paige Burk to discuss the audit’s findings on Monday morning.

“We are about halfway through the audit,” explained Burk. “We are at the the mid-term stage and we want to discuss our findings with the commission just in case we need a little bit of direction on where to go next. In the past few weeks, we have begun a preliminary audit. There was a self-performing contract to get some needed upgrades. This has given us some estimates with savings and costs and what items are going to save some money.”

The commission was concerned about the potential for energy savings in the facility.

“During the course of this audit, we have focused on obtaining an average weather range,” said Burk. “This is several seasons without a polar vortex and without a scorching hot summer. We’re averaging 100 years of weather. Our calculations show an estimated $230,000 spent on electricity each year because there is no natural gas to that facility. With the project, we are able to estimate a savings of $60,000 per year in energy savings. We calculate a total of $67,265 in energy savings and fossil fuels shows as a negative number for savings because we will be implementing natural gas at a cost of almost $8,000, but the net of that is almost $60,000 in savings.”

“There is a natural gas supply line on the road by the facility and we’re going to work with the company to bring it to the building,” explained County Administrator Will Johnson.

“That was a decision made in 1999 to use only electricity in the judicial building,” commented Commissioner Mike Wheeler.

Burk went on to explain the audits, while outlining projects which would be beneficial when looking for energy savings, will also serve to complete reports which might soon be required by the government.

“If carbon footprint reporting is ever mandated by the government, we can help to submit those reports after performing this audit,” explained Burk. “With these new measures in the facility, the carbon footprint will be reduced 352 E-Tons of greenhouse gases per year. That is equivalent to 45 houses being taken off the grid.

“So you’re saying we’re hurting the environment as we live today,” said Commissioner Peggy Palmer.

“Yes,” said Commissioner Jeff Masterson. “We use electricity and we drive our cars, that increases our carbon footprint.”

“We’re saying we can be better stewards,” explained Johnson. “We have an opportunity to save some money too. At this moment, we don’t really care about the carbon credits. We are really just looking at saving money.”

Burk went on to outline the projects proposed by the audit, which will include a recommissioning of the building’s automation system, lighting controls, sensors, converting clothes dryers and converting kitchen appliances.

“The building’s automation system required recalibration every 5-10 years,” explained Burk. “While we’re implementing all these new strategies, we will work on recalibrating this system to ensure everything will be doing what it is supposed to be doing. When (Director of Facilities Management) Dan Engels sits down at his computer and sees an administration office is 72 degrees, we want it to actually be at 72 degrees. We’re going to give him more control and we’re going to make sure all these functions are being completed properly.”

Lighting and sensors will also be changed with this project.

“In this facility, there are already lighting ballasts all over the facility,” said Burk. “With the ballasts, we plan on changing the wattage of the bulbs used. We will change them from a 32 watt to a 28 watt. We will also be implementing an occupancy sensor. It will be connected directly to the lighting systems as well as the HVAC system.”

“What does that mean?” asked Palmer.

“The existing building automation system has been in place for a number of years,” explained Burk. “We’re tweaking the settings of the systems which are in place and we are adding some additional sensors. They will help with energy savings. When someone is in a room, the sensor will pick up on that and the lights will stay on and the air conditioner will click on as well. When that person leaves the room, the lights will shut off and the air conditioning will kick up a few degrees to allow for an energy savings. These sensors will have both a movement and sound capability to detect occupants. We will also be converting some of the lighting from a high-pressure sodium to an LED bulb, which will also save dollars in the long run.”

“So you’re just adding some additional sensors?” asked Commissioner Ed Myers.

“How does the sensors regulate the levels?” asked Palmer

“There are specific codes set by ventilation systems,” said Burk. “For example, a school gym’s maximum occupancy is 1,000 people so the rooftop unit serving that space has to have enough capability to put out enough air for 1,000 people. If not all of that capacity is always needed, there is a way to control it. The school will only want to supply only enough for those occupying the space at any given time.”

The conversion of the clothing dryers was cause for some discussion with the commission.

“We will be converting three commercial-sized electric clothes dryers to natural gas,” explained Burk. “We will be running the natural gas lines into the laundry rooms to also allow for the replacement of the washing machines down the road. They still have a lot of life left.”

“I’m still pushing for clotheslines,” commented Palmer. “I used them for a long time.”

“Were you hanging clothes for 200 people?” asked Engels.

“The idea of inmates hanging up their own clothes is comical,” said Myers.

“We had a company come in recently,” explained Sheriff Kelly Herzet, “and they were amazed by the fact that in the last 10-12 years we have had no suicides in our jail.”

“Clotheslines do create a suicide hazard,” explained Burk. “We don’t typically recommend them for these types of facilities.”

The audit also suggests the replacement of several kitchen appliances.

“We will propose the conversion of the major kitchen appliances as well,” said Burk. “We’re talking about the components under the ventilation hood: the steam kettle, flat griddle and three ovens. They are all the major pieces of equipment.”

“How often are they using this equipment?” asked Palmer.

“We’re using these things every day,” answered Engels. “We have a contract with a company that comes in and cooks two hot meals a day in this kitchen for the inmates.”

Along with the proposed projects, the company also presented a list of several projects that did not meet all requirements to be included in the self-funding facility-wide project.

“Further facility improvement measures include a way to address the issue with the clogging of the grills in cell blocks,” said Burk. “In each cell block, each area has a supply vent. In those vents, there are eraser-sized holes which allow for airflow. Inmates have found they can wet toilet paper and stick it into the holes in these vents and when the paper dries, it expands and blocks the holes. There is currently no way to completely clean these vents out by the staff. We did include a plan to make those accessible to clean and it would help to balance the system continually, but it did not come with an overall energy savings.”

“So the inmates are doing this because they’re either too hot or too cold?” asked Wheeler.

“Or because they’re bored and have nothing better to do,” answered Engels.

The company also proposed: the replacement of washing machines in order to convert them to natural gas units, but not until the washing machines were in disrepair and the replacement of ventilators in HVAC units.

“The plan is to continue moving forward in the direction we’re headed,” said Burk. “We wanted to speak with the commission to see if there was anything else we haven’t already done.”

“We will continue to consider all these projects through the end of the audit,” said Woydziak.

The commission also:

• unanimously voted to opt out of paying membership dues to the Regional Economic Area Partnership in the amount of $5445.

• approved the purchase for liquid asphalt for the Highway Department for 2014.

• approved a cost proposal for highway striping work for the RAP hot-mix overlay project on SW 20th from SW Ohio Street to SW Haverhill Road.

• approved a supplemental agreement with KDOT amending the agreement approved Aug. 30, 2011, related to the funding and administration of the proposed Fourmile Creed Bridge replacement project on SW Butler Road, south of Andover.

• completed a work session on the Road Projects CIP.


Kari Adams can be reached at kadams@butlercountytimesgazette.com.