Aspen looks to reduce its energy suck |

Aspen looks to reduce its energy suck

ASPEN – A private firm has begun work to make $1.2 million worth of energy efficiency upgrades in 13 government-owned buildings throughout the city of Aspen.

City officials in January signed a contract with McKinstry, a Seattle-based firm focused on efficiency systems, to be the general contractor on the project.

McKinstry representatives are in Aspen this week, meeting with managers of the facilities that are planned for upgrades, according to Jeff Rice, the city’s utilities energy efficiency manager.

“We’re ready to go, most of our projects are ready to go,” he said, adding most of the work will be low impact to the public and to the facilities’ operations. “You’ll probably hardly even notice the work being done.”

The city hired McKinstry in 2008 to perform technical energy audits on 14 buildings around town. That work cost $38,000.

As a result, 13 of those buildings need upgrades – some with extensive improvements and others that are as simple as changing the light bulbs.

Improvements will be made to City Hall, the electric switch station, the golf and parks facilities, the ice garden, the Aspen Recreation Center, the parking department, Rio Grande, the Red and Yellow Brick buildings and the water department facilities.

Upgrades include lighting, controls, automating systems, pumps, drive motors, waste heat recovery, HVAC upgrades, retro-active commissioning and a host of new equipment installations.

The more significant projects will be at the ARC and the water treatment plant at the top of Doolittle Drive, Rice said.

The work at the ARC involves transferring the heat produced in making ice to warm the pools, and at the water treatment plant, tank covers will be installed.

Combined, the improvements will have an annual net energy and operational cost savings of $58,796, reducing the city carbon emissions by 717,340 pounds a year. It’s estimated that there will be a 12 percent energy reduction in the buildings after the work is completed.

The total cost of all the projects is $1,227,098 with $754,020 of city capital and $33,072 in utility rebates and grants.

The remaining $441,449 will be financed through a tax-exempt municipal lease purchase agreement over a 12-year term at a 4.843 percent interest rate. The energy improvements have a bundled simple pay back of 11.4 years.

The lease purchase contract is an arrangement the city made to lease assets related to the project for 12 years. The rental payments equal what interest and principal payments would be if the equipment had otherwise been financed. At the end of the lease, the assets become the city’s property.

Rice said McKinstry has been instructed to follow the city’s request for proposals policy and use local subcontractors when it can.

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