KY EXCEL members set a positive example
By Mary Jo Harrod, KY EXCEL
“All of the staff members at Mountain Association for Community Economic Development (MACED), in Berea, are involved in making our office building green and cutting waste,” says Barbara Reed, MACED Office Manager and the KY EXCEL contact at MACED, an advocate member.
For the current year KY EXCEL project, MACED chose to compost food scraps. Prior year projects have been to switch to high-performance lighting, replace Christmas lights with LED bulbs and renovate the office building, making it energy efficient and environmentally green.
Irene DeLuna, Forestry Program Associate, suggested the composting project, which involves having composting bins in each of the two office kitchens. The thirty employees in the office are invited to bring their coffee grounds, paper products and waste from daily food items to the bins.
“At the end of the day, I use a digital scale to weigh the contents of each bin and then take it to my home composting bin outdoors,” says DeLuna. “The daily average collected from the bins is three pounds.”
Replacing magnetic light ballasts with electronic ballasts and changing bulbs with high performance lighting was a step toward greater energy efficiency in the office.
“The upgrades reduced the office’s carbon footprint by an estimated 12,522 pounds per year and saves MACED approximately $460 per year. This also eliminated the flicker associated with tubes energized by the older magnetic ballasts and provides better quality and brighter lighting for the employees,” says Energy Specialist Josh Bills.
Christmas lights were replaced with LED bulbs, resulting in a reduction of the office’s holiday lighting bill by 90 percent. The LED bulbs will last for 20 years or more.
A number of measures were taken in the renovation to make the office building more environmentally friendly. A geothermal system was installed and energy usage for heating and cooling the building has been cut in half. Interior windows were added to allow for natural light in a windowless office, which also enabled hall lights to be turned off in some areas.
Bills explains that the building has double-pane windows, but insulating blinds, an upcoming project, will be installed at the large front windows. The blinds have tracks to allow light inside, but keep the winter cold and summer heat out.
Joe Sheehan, Technology Coordinator, says, “Computer servers were replaced with one to utilize wasted server capacity. Also, the computers are set at power-saving settings.” Sheehan used an infrared camera to detect energy leaks in the building’s structure, which then were sealed. The upstairs portion of the building is outfitted with an on-demand water heater to save energy.
“Exit signs were replaced with LED lights, which is a very easy first step for anyone wanting to go green,” he says. “The LED bulbs use only 1/10 the energy of the old ones or 2 watts versus 20.”
When it was time to paint the interior walls, employees were allowed to choose the color of low-VOC paint that would be used for their individual offices. The paint has no odor and is great for the walls.
“In one office, a 3M film was placed over the windows to block the heat of the sun in the summer,” says Reed. “It is an invisible thermal. You cannot tell the film is there, and it does not prevent the light from flowing inside.”
The old carpet was replaced with flooring tiles made from 100 percent recycled floor tiles that are made from tires. When one tile becomes damaged or stained, it can be replaced, just like a linoleum tile, which saves a lot of carpet replacement.
In order to allow more natural lighting into the office, two back doors were replaced with doors that have windows in the top half. This not only has reduced the use of electric lighting in one area, but has improved staff morale and diminished the closed-in feeling experienced by the employees whose offices are nearby.
“It’s nice to work in a green place, but it is wonderful that it is also beautiful,” says Sheehan.