City Staff is Owning Energy Management

Photo credit: Brendle Group

Photo credit: Brendle Group

As part of the Georgetown University Energy Prize Competition, City of Madison facilities staff are taking energy and money savings into their own hands. The competition encourages building the internal capacity of cities to continue saving energy through best practices in energy management. The City created an Energy Leadership Academy that is designed to share information with peers and hear from energy and buildings experts about immediately relevant topics. By adding these skills to their overall technical expertise in managing buildings, facilities staff are simultaneously saving the City utility costs and developing their own professional capabilities.

Energy Leadership Academy participants started with a foundation based on energy principles and investigation, looking at topics around energy software, energy auditing and working with utilities and utility bills. From there, they heard about best practices for engaging building occupants in generating savings before diving deeper into specific technologies of interest. In conjunction with building their knowledge around particular topics such as lighting and recommissioning, many participants are applying this knowledge to develop specific projects they have identified. By empowering the people that work directly with the building to improve how they operate, the chances of maintaining performance are increased and the chances of installing systems that won’t be well utilized are decreased.

Participants have been meeting for a couple of hours every month since last July, and many are turning the knowledge they’ve gained into discrete energy savings projects. Don Saunders in Parks (pictured above) has been optimizing the Botanical Gardens buildings, including installing more efficient variable speed drives on motors and investigating ways to more effectively control the equipment. Lighting retrofits are proceeding in a number of facilities, and retro commissioning is being looked at to ensure existing equipment is brought to its optimal operating condition. In conjunction with the Academy, the City of Madison is also rolling out a retro commissioning program that will help building operators learn the proper steps in this technical process. The Warner Park Community Center is the first pilot building.

Last month, the Academy focused on syncing up the annual budgeting process, offering staff members the opportunity to look ahead to next year and identify opportunities to operate their buildings more efficiently. As the Academy moves into summer, participants will be taking increased ownership of the process, getting specific information on topics they have identified as most useful, and looking forward to seeing the energy savings accumulate as projects and best practices are implemented. Stay tuned for additional updates as City staff members continue to save money and energy!