State buildings in N.C. have reduced energy costs by almost $1 billion since 2003

Raleigh

RALEIGH – North Carolina officials announced Tuesday that state agencies and universities have reduced energy costs in their buildings by $970 million since 2003 and expect to reach $1 billion in energy cost reductions by the end of the year.

North Carolina law adopted in 2003 established a 30 percent energy use reduction goal by 2015 for state facilities. The $970 million in utility cost avoidance means state buildings have reduced energy consumption by 29 percent during the past 12 years.

“We are proud to recognize the energy efficiency efforts our agencies and universities have achieved in just a dozen years,” said Donald R. van der Vaart, secretary of the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources. “By reducing the amount of energy used, state agencies and universities in North Carolina are also helping the environment by emitting far less air pollution.”

The announcement Tuesday came from officials with the Utility Savings Initiative, a program in the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources aimed at reducing energy consumption and improving environmental performance in state buildings.

DENR’s Utility Saving Initiative works with all 14 state agencies and 21 state universities and affiliates that report their progress toward the energy and water use reduction goals. Staff members with the initiative provide to public facilities technical assistance in the form of strategic energy management planning, energy performance contracting, on-site energy audits, energy management training and a host of other areas.

“The USI team has a unique skill set that is a tremendous asset to DENR’s customer service and outreach efforts,” said Joe Harwood, who works closely with the initiative as DENR’s ombudsman. “These energy management activities demonstrate an operational efficiency strategy which is, in effect, helping reduce the burden on taxpayers.”

A key approach to curbing energy use is though Energy Performance Contracting, which many agencies have used to invest in upgrading older facilities. Last year, the state invested $21 million in performance contracts, financed through private banks that help modernize existing facilities and reduce costs. State officials estimate the performance contracts will pay for themselves over the life of the contracts. The state currently has $281 million in energy performance contracts committed through this innovative financing approach. Fayetteville State University received approval for a $10.4 million energy performance contracts last year.

“We have to be creative in how we re-invest in our facilities to improve efficiencies,” said Jon Parsons, director of Facilities Operations for Fayetteville State University.

The 2014 Utility Savings Initiative report is available at http://portal.ncdenr.org/web/deao/ea/utility-savings-initiative .

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