Vail to replace light fixtures in parking structures with energy efficient models

By Real Vail
September 24, 2011

Beginning Monday, Sept. 26, a project to replace more than 1,000 light fixtures in the Vail Village and Lionshead parking garages with energy-efficient lighting will take place as part of a phased plan to decrease the town's energy use. The work will take from six to eight weeks and will be completed before the start of the upcoming ski season. Access to the parking garages will be available throughout the project.

The town is undergoing $3.2 million in energy improvements over the next 18 months following an audit of its town facilities which documented current energy consumption and opportunities for future efficiencies. According to a preliminary audit, the parking structures account for 43 percent of the town's total electrical energy consumption.

Replacement of the existing light fixtures with new, high-tech LED (light emitting diode) fixtures will cost $1.4 million. Once the work is complete the town will realize annual energy savings of $63,000 and reduce its green house gas emissions by 670 tons of carbon dioxide per year. Another benefit is an improved guest experience and demonstrating a commitment toward environmental leadership, according to Kristen Bertuglia, the town's environmental sustainability coordinator. “This project is an example of the Vail Town Council's dedication to the environment and leading by example,” she says. “The LED lights that were chosen for this project are the most environmentally friendly and technologically advanced equipment available, throwing light to all sides rather than straight down, allowing for brighter, full spectrum lighting,” she said. LEDs use less than 70 percent of the electricity required for conventional lighting.

The energy audit of town facilities, conducted in 2010, has identified and prioritized projects and funding that will create the largest environmental impacts and long-term cost savings for the town. The goal is to reduce the town's energy use and emissions by 20 percent by 2020. To achieve the goal, the town has signed a multi-project contract with Johnson Controls Inc., headquartered in Milwaukee, Wis., and recognized globally for its delivery of products, services and solutions that increase energy efficiency in buildings.

As part of the energy conservation project, the town is participating in the Governor's Energy Office (GEO) Performance Contracting program, in which GEO representatives oversee the entire process, from audit to implementation, to ensure proper evaluation of building systems, fair pricing and to make sure that nothing has been overlooked.

Once the project is completed in approximately 18 months, the town will save $260,000 annually along with reducing the town's total energy use and emissions by 12 percent. The performance contracting model requires no upfront investment from the town because the guaranteed energy savings will offset the cost of the improvements over time. After the project is complete, Vail will continue to benefit from ongoing energy and operational savings and Johnson Controls will guarantee all or a portion of these savings under the terms of the contract.

Other phases of the improvements include adding insulation and weather stripping to buildings, plus programmable thermostats, new boilers, and water conserving fixtures such as low-flow toilets and faucets.

In all, the town is responsible for 16 public buildings, including the municipal building, public library, town shops, three fire stations, the Vail Village and Lionshead parking garages, Lionshead Transit Center, Lionshead Welcome Center (under construction), Donovan Pavilion, Dobson Arena, Nature Center and Golf Course Clubhouse, as well as numerous auxiliary structures including park restrooms and bus stops.

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