Shawnee to consider large-scale energy savings projects this year

The Shawnee council has unanimously agreed to consider investing in energy performance projects this year.

The council will formally consider in its Jan. 14 meeting a contract with Navitas on a series of construction projects to improve energy and efficiency cost savings.

Caitlin Gard, assistant city manager, said that many of Shawnee’s aging public buildings are anywhere between 30 and 60 years old. Some equipment in the buildings are also aging and may not be operating as efficiently as they should be.

Shawnee hired Navitas last year to provide an investment grade audit of the city’s buildings and equipment. By December 2018, the city has finalized energy conservation measures as well as a list of facility improvement measures and pricing on more than 20 projects.

Shawnee plans to incorporate solar panels into its new fire station in the western part of the city. Photo credit Jon Callas. Used under a Creative Commons license.

Gard said nine of those projects will meet “immediate facility needs” and provide the city with a positive cash flow over 15 years. These include lighting, street lighting, water, building envelope improvements, building automation, engine block heater control, retrocommissioning, adding VFDs to chilled water pumps and performance optimization.

Other citywide energy savings projects include sealant repairs, replacing water heaters, HVAC/mechanical work and adding solar panels to Fire Station 72. In total, these projects provide the city over the course of 15 years with a projected energy savings of $329,000, a projected utility cost savings of $6.5 million, and an operational/maintenance cost savings of $2.3 million, according to audit results provided to the city.

“I will say when you’re looking at that list, almost every single one of those projects is going to have to happen eventually regardless if we do this project or not,” Gard said. “HVACs will fail, lights will need to be replaced — eventually, I don’t know when but we will have to upgrade to LED — so as we’re talking about completing these projects rolling it into the scope of a performance contract may seem like the right thing to do if this council wants to move forward.”

The total cost on development of these energy performance projects is $5.8 million.

Councilmember Eric Jenkins asked if the city could space out some of the more expensive projects and pay out of the general fund instead of incurring debt through bond issuance. Gard said funds from energy cost savings on the projects will help pay for the projects themselves, and the city will be able to save funds from the city’s general fund for other projects.

Gard said city staff wanted to include installation of solar panels on Fire Station 72 as part of the city’s energy performance efforts because “we want to show the residents and the community that this is something that we’re really interested in.” Installation of solar panels on the fire station would cost $166,000 and have a projected energy savings of $8,900.

The city anticipates moving forward with construction on these projects from May through November of this year. Gard said the city will see positive cash savings beginning this year.