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owsley county courthouse energy retrofit


September 2010


Owsely County Judge Executive Cale Turner wanted to cut operating costs at the county courthouse. He had recently read that utility rates were going to increase and could see that electric bills at the courthouse were already on the rise. By word of mouth, MACED’s Energy Efficient Enterprises (E3) team heard about the judge’s desire to cut electric bills and contacted the judge.


MACED’s energy specialist and E3 project manager visited the courthouse in late winter and found that the two-story, brick building housed many vital agencies and civic functions, including a circuit court, department of motor vehicles, county clerk, community action agency, sheriff’s office, county judge executive and more. The operating hours of each agency varied widely from fifteen hours a week to close to twenty-four hours a day. This level of variability made it difficult for the building’s operations team to use one energy management strategy building-wide.


One building-wide system that could be addressed immediately was the overhead lighting. Nearly all of the fluorescent lighting fixtures contained magnetic ballasts with 4 ft. fluorescent T-12 lamps which could be easily replaced with more energy efficient electronic ballasts and T-8 lamps.


MACED’s E3 team suggested that the courthouse could use 30% to 50% less electricity for lighting if the courthouse fixtures were upgraded. In fact, calculations based on electric rates at that time, the number of hours lights were in use and their wattages revealed the courthouse could save $1,600 annually on electricity. With a quote for the cost of the replacement equipment at $2,600 including delivery, the judge decided to proceed.


MACED and the lighting wholesaler delivered the equipment to the courthouse in late March and showed county operations employees how to change out the equipment. Thomas McIntosh, who helped with the retrofit, said “after the first couple of fixtures, I got it and it was easy to do.”


Within several days, almost 350 fixtures were upgraded. Initial comments from employees in the building were very positive. Angela Trosper of the local community action agency said the lights :are an improvement, definitely brighter, which always helps since we don’t have a window.”


Since the retrofit in March, total electric usage for April, May and June is down 5% to 8% from the same time in the previous year. The next big task at the courthouse is to tackle heating and cooling, building envelope, insulation and ventilation. This complex system must work at optimal levels to keep building occupants comfortable and work efficiently.