Oregon is looking into improving the energy efficiency and environmental performance of city owned buildings to reduce operating costs and to lower levels of pollution created by energy producing facilities.
Mayor Mike Seferian told council at a meeting last Monday that the municipal building, which includes city council chambers and the police department, is one of the least energy efficient buildings in the city.
City Administrator Mike Beazley said improving energy efficiency was discussed at the budget hearings.
“We did want to take a look at the costs associated with heating, cooling and lighting our campus here, and operating our other buildings as well,” said Beazley.
“My goal is to see if we can upgrade our physical plant to save money for the taxpayers, make the building more comfortable, and actually spend no money,” said Beazley. “That’s my goal. I expect to be able to achieve it.”
A grant from the U.S. Department of Energy obtained by the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority for a similar project could be a possible funding source for the city, said Beazley.
“The grant would allow the use of staff and analysis time to really take a good look at the physical plant. Short term, it is my hope to achieve an upgrade to the physical plant for our own campus and lower costs to operate the building,” said Beazley. “If you walk around this building, there’s almost always space heaters that are on. Those are getting very expensive. In some cases, we have boilers and chillers working at cross purposes because of the nature of the building, which was put together and connected over time.”
The city is looking to partner with the port authority on the project, he said.
“We hope to have them in here for a hearing at some appropriate time to give a presentation on this issue,” he said.
“It’s also my hope to take what we learned during this process for the city and see if we can be the pilot for a program that could then be available to Oregon businesses and residents to encourage them to invest in their own physical plant and lower their own costs of operating, and make it easier for businesses to stay here and thrive.”
The city could also develop energy efficient programs to attract businesses, he said.
“It would make it easier for businesses to choose to locate here if we’re on the front edge of this. But first, we want to begin with our own campus. Let’s see what works with it,” he said.
After the meeting, Beazley said the city spends over $500,000 per year on utility bills.
City Councilman Sandy Bihn, a long time environmentalist, thanked the administration for looking at improving energy efficiency.
“It’s incredibly important,” said Bihn, who is also Lake Erie Waterkeeper. “I think it does increase our operating savings and our ability to function, as well as decreasing our carbon footprint. I think these are all excellent approaches, and I applaud the administration for doing it. I look forward to working with everyone to make it happen.”
Councilman Dennis Walendzak, chairman of the Drainage, Roads, Buildings and Lands Committee, scheduled a committee meeting to discuss the matter further at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, March 14 in the council conference room at 5330 Seaman Road.