NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC – In response to current media coverage of New Hanover County’s ‘Sustainability Policy’, please allow us this opportunity to share with you additional insight and information about the program, its intent and successes.
Since 2007, New Hanover County has been working to reduce energy usage in all County-owned facilities in an effort to act as responsible stewards of county tax dollars. Various 3rd party organizations (public and private) have performed analysis’ of county facilities and made recommendations based on their findings.
The 3rd party analysis has illustrated that between 2008 – 2013 utility consumption for New Hanover County government rose almost 26%. Contributing factors to this increase; field audits revealed many areas were using a great deal of individual plug in items, referred to as “plug load”. In one example alone, nearly 100 space heaters, fans, coffee pots, mini fridges, and hot plates were located between two departments in the same building.
It was also discovered that buildings were being operated outside of design and ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers) Standards, meaning that temperatures were being set and the systems were producing below average temperatures in the summer and above average in the winter. Our analysis further identified that the HVAC systems were inefficient and break room refrigerators were not energy efficient or working optimally in some areas.
A formal ‘Sustainability Policy’ was recommended to systematically address these identified concerns. That policy became effective on September 1 of this year and efforts are now underway in New Hanover County to enhance the efficiency of facilities and improve the comfort of employees and customers.
Old inefficient HVAC systems are being replaced with new high efficient HVAC systems, outdated and inefficient lighting is being switched to LED, new energy efficient appliances are replacing outdated refrigerators for employee use, and various forms of “plug load” are being eliminated as a way of reducing our utility bills and expenses. Eliminating additional “plug load” and operating our buildings at the PE designed set points we will save 8% on our utilities, representing $123,000 less tax dollars spent annually. A conversion from propane to natural gas alone in Animal Control and Cooperative Extension is saving taxpayers an estimated $36,000 annually.
Over the next 5 years our target is a 20% reduction in total utility consumption. That’s $430,892 saved annually by the end of 2019. These savings will facilitate continual improvement in the buildings and represent a significant reduction in tax dollars required to cover these ongoing expenses.
The ‘Sustainability Policy’ and its implementation throughout government facilities is yet another way New Hanover County strives to provide efficient service and be good stewards of tax dollars.
Carey Disney Ricks
Public and Legislative Affairs Director