Shenandoah Valley regional energy efficiency strategy yields impressive results

As the results roll in from a two-year Shenandoah Valley Regional Energy Efficiency Strategy developed and executed by the Central Shenandoah Planning District Commission, the program is being touted by Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy Projects Coordinator, Ron Hachey, as a “shining star” among other state energy efficiency projects.

Funded by a Virginia Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant and administered by the DMME, this initiative identified collective energy savings in excess of $300,000 annually for participating localities.

“When thinking about the 41 energy efficiency projects that I oversaw across the Commonwealth, I always considered the CSPDC’s project to be the shining star of them all. Well-designed, well-organized, well-communicated, well-executed and fully embraced by the 20 Central Shenandoah localities both big and small. My hat’s off to the staff at the Commission for their hard work that made this project such a valley-wide success. High praise to the local leaders and staff in the 20 localities for leading by example in an emerging world where all of us will need to become more energy efficient in our daily lives.”

The EECBG funding was used to help local governments reduce energy use and save on energy costs. The program included energy audits of 50 public buildings, funding of improvements to buildings and facilities and an educational outreach program on energy efficiency and conservation.  A total investment of $640,000 was spent implementing this program in the region, and each jurisdiction received $22,000 from the grant to complete upgrades recommended by Roanoke-based Spectrum Design who conducted the audits.

Participating localities included the counties of Augusta, Bath, Highland, Rockbridge, and Rockingham; the cities of Buena Vista, Lexington, Staunton, and Waynesboro; and the towns of Bridgewater, Broadway, Craigsville, Dayton, Elkton, Goshen, Glasgow, Grottoes, Monterey, Mount Crawford, and Timberville.  The City of Harrisonburg received a direct allocation under the EECBG Program from the U.S. Department of Energy.

Specific improvements included weatherization and insulation, HVAC retrofits, lighting upgrades, window/door replacements and renewable energy installations. Rockingham County Deputy County Administrator Stephen King talks about the benefits of the upgrades:

“This program has helped Rockingham County prioritize its energy-related capital improvements and put its resources where we will see the greatest savings. The County has replaced approximately 300 light fixtures in the Rockingham County Jail with more energy-efficient light bulbs and electronic ballasts. The Jail is a building that is in use 24/7,” says King “and making improvements in this area should have long lasting and immediate results.”

John A. Garland, P.E., President of Spectrum Design, discussed his company’s participation in the Energy Efficiency Strategy: “Spectrum Design was proud to participate in this quite important energy efficiency program.  Any dollar saved on monthly utility bills on an ongoing basis will benefit not only the government, but also the community, the tax payer and the environment.  This program provided resources and expertise for many small communities that would had otherwise not been able to take advantage of the many needed improvements to make their public buildings more efficient.”

Given the amount of funding available as part of program, each locality had to prioritize the improvements identified in each of the energy audits. According to Robbie Huff, Project Administrator from the CSPDC, “The investments made in the 29 buildings that received energy efficiency retrofits have already begun to return savings in the form of reduced energy costs and is expected to continue reaping benefits as data about final completed projects and educational endeavors begin to mature. The priority retrofits are complete, but the energy studies include many additional improvements that will reduce energy costs even further.”

The expectation is that activities like retrofitting energy deficient buildings, distributing hundreds of energy efficiency kits, providing green job training, utility bill analysis, and numerous other awareness-raising events will increase the impact of this program for years to come. Huff reiterated the ongoing benefits from the Energy Efficiency Strategy: “The savings resulting from this program has everyone looking at energy efficiency when considering renovations to their buildings or during the design of new buildings.  Some projects will pay for themselves in energy savings if designed properly.”

For more information about this effort, contact Robbie Huff with the Central Shenandoah Planning District Commission at robbie@cspdc.org.

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