Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Jefferson Center Gets $35,000 Energy Grant

Jefferson Center will get an energy upfit.

With the assistance of a $35,000 grant awarded by The American Electric Power (AEP) Foundation, Jefferson Center in Roanoke will soon launch an energy monitoring and conservation project in an effort to renew an historic building with today's technology.

Ninteen years have passed since the first phase of renovation to the old Jefferson High School began and within the last two decades environmental concerns, energy conservation and building systems technology have changed dramatically.

"We are coming to the end of the natural life of many elements of the building's renovation and have begun planning for Jefferson Center's renewal as a more efficient structure," says Cyrus Pace, Jefferson Center executive director.

AEP Foundation awarded its support to a four-phased implementation of energy auditing, monitoring and of practices and equipment to reduce Jefferson Center's consumption of electricity, natural gas and water. Appalachian Power is the local operating subsidiary of AEP.

The proposed conservation measures will not just focus on updating physical technologies. Jefferson Center's energy conservation project will provide an example of the wisdom of creative reuse of historic buildings, showing that an historic property can be made relevant to contemporary standards and technology.

"A sense of stewardship demands that we operate efficiently and with an updated concern for environmental impacts," says Pace. "That's why in the summer of 2010 we asked Breakell Inc., a Roanoke general contractor with certified specialists advising on environmental issues, to perform an energy audit and estimate the cost of retrofits focused on conservation."

Breakell donated its expertise and after an extensive energy audit proposed a four-phase plan that predicted savings of $42,500 a year by lowering utility costs after completion of the plan.

The first phase of the project includes extensive education of those working in Jefferson Center, as well as its non-profit tenants to the wisdom of significant changes in energy usage.

Additionally, the plan calls for retrofitting all incandescent, fluorescent and exit lights with more efficient bulbs and installing occupancy and motion detectors in seldom-used spaces such as storage areas and restrooms.

Subsequent phases include continuing upgrades in monitoring equipment, adding timers to control hot water recirculation and replacement of the 10 oldest heat pumps with more efficient models.

(Photo: downtownroanoke.org)

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