OTTAWA — Putnam County commissioners have decided to be proactive in upgrading the efficiency of windows, lighting and HVAC systems in county-owned buildings.
In 2012, Cincinnati-based Perfection Group performed an energy audit of all 17 county-owned buildings, including residential properties operated by Brookhill.
The study included areas such as lighting, air conditioning, heating systems and windows. It estimated costs and the time it would take for energy savings to equal the price of upgrades.
The commissioners approved a contract with Perfection Group for more than $200,000 to implement projects for 2013, including the Putnam County Courthouse and Putnam County Jail. The contract includes $183,000 for the work in the courthouse and jail, including an addendum to be sent for $20,000 for retrofitting individual heating and cooling units in the courthouse.
“We decided not to borrow money,” said Commissioner Vince Schroeder. “You can take out bonds to do the projects, but we did not want to do that.”
Work at the courthouse will include installing energy efficient lighting, new energy-efficient air conditioning units and upgrading the boiler system. One of the main projects at the jail will be upgrading the air handling to a more energy efficient system. County Commissioner John Love said the work will be put up for bid.
Love said the time needed for upgrades to pay for themselves will be accelerated in the courthouse because it uses American Electric Power and qualifies for the utility's rebate program.
“Many of our buildings, including the jail, are on co-op electricity companies and do not qualify for this rebate,” Love said.
Schroeder said there's money to be saved at the jail, too.
“The audit indicated one of our biggest energy savings could come from the jail, our newest building,” Schroeder said. He said efficiency upgrades take three to 10 year to pay for themselves, depending on the project.
Love said age played a factor in scheduling upgrades.
“We felt it was important to prioritize things and how they needed replaced,” Love said. “We didn’t want to just wait and fix things when they break.”
Commissioner Travis Jerwers said the projects mean savings for the county, which in the long run create savings for taxpayers. “And that is important. That we make decisions that will save the county money,” Jerwers said.