Over the past few years, the City of Dublin has focused considerable effort at being more sustainable in its municipal operations, with one of the primary goals of being more energy efficient. The City has placed significant effort in promoting sustainability to its residents, but the City has been sensitive to not only talking the talk, but also walking the walk and being a leader and example for its residents.
Like most jurisdictions across the nation, the City of Dublin has been negatively impacted from the economic downturn. This has made it difficult to pursue many of the City’s desired sustainability plans so the City began its sustainable upgrade efforts by focusing on small and simple projects and on policy planning areas it felt could be impactful, all the while keeping an eye out for the opportunity to implement the full range of projects as desired. As a result, the City was able to develop a Climate Action Plan which has laid the ground work for greenhouse gas emissions reductions and adopted residential, commercial, and municipal green building ordinances. Further, the City has placed an emphasis on multiple transit-oriented development projects and developed a Green Taskforce, comprised of community members to help establish a Green Plan for the community.
After a few years of hard work on various projects, the City became aware of the concept of energy services contracting, wherein the cost of energy efficiency upgrades are paid for with the savings garnered from implementing the energy improvement projects. These projects do not require out of pocket expenses from the City and there are no budgetary impacts. The mechanism of energy service contracting provided the City with an opportunity to leverage the significant work it had already accomplished, and provided the City with an opportunity to complete a number of capital projects that would have otherwise waited years for full funding. Energy services contracting may not be the right solution for every city in every case, but in this economy where municipalities are looking for any and all opportunities to save money by cutting costs, an energy services contract is worth exploring.
Energy Upgrade Projects
As part of the City’s energy services contract, eight photovoltaic electricity production (solar) installations will be completed at all City facilities. In addition to the renewable energy provided by the project, the scope also includes multiple energy efficiency measures at various sites. The energy efficiency scope includes HVAC upgrades at the Civic Center, Library, and a future Public Safety complex. The project will also address interior and exterior lighting upgrades at City facilities, including occupancy sensors where appropriate, installation of irrigation control devices to prevent overwatering and water loss at City parks, as well as water fixture replacements. Finally, the project will upgrade the City’s streetlights by replacing the high pressure sodium cobra head lighting fixtures with a light emitting diode (LED) lighting technology. The City anticipates that its energy upgrade project will have the following benefits:
• Provide nearly 1 MW of clean renewable energy;
• Reduce energy consumption by 2,723,849 kWh per year;
• Utility/maintenance expense reductions of over $560,000 per year;
• Result in approximately $14.8 million in savings to the City over 25 years;
• Capture $277,795 in one-time rebates;
• Capture $446,599 in California Solar Initiative incentives;
• Save approximately $67,000 in annual water costs without estimating increases; and
• Reduce the City’s annual greenhouse gas emissions by 1,920 metric tons.
The City is excited to move forward with these energy upgrade projects as we strive to make the community of Dublin as sustainable as possible. The great thing about this approach is that, not only is the City able to maintain its position as environmental leader, the City is also able to do so in a fiscally prudent manner.