INDIANA BOROUGH: Consultant says energy plan could save big money
April 16, 2014 11:00 AM
by RANDY WELLS

Representatives of Constellation, a Chicago-based energy services company, proposed to Indiana council Tuesday a nearly $2.5 million package of renovations and technology upgrades they say will save the borough more than $205,000 annually. The improvements — led by high-efficiency lighting and windows, new boilers and added insulation — they told council, would pay for themselves through lower utility bills in about 12 years.

Council last summer retained Constellation to conduct a detailed energy audit of borough-owned buildings and properties with the goal of reducing the borough’s electricity, natural gas, water and sewage bills and cutting operating costs while at the same time upgrading outdated and obsolete equipment and systems.

“We look at projects … ways to make buildings more energy-efficient,” Joe Hudak, a senior business development manager for Constellation, told council. “We look at anything and everything” related to energy savings.

Through Pennsylvania’s Act 39 energy legislation, municipalities and school districts can secure loans to make energy-saving improvements, and the loans are repaid through the annual savings realized by the new technologies.

Constellation, Hudak said, performs the initial engineering, acts as construction management while the changes are being made and new equipment is installed, and then remains available to guarantee the equipment performs and the savings materialize as promised.

Constellation is the firm overseeing a comprehensive energy-savings project for the Indiana Area School District.

During the energy audit in Indiana Borough, Constellation engineers examined energy-use systems in borough-owned buildings and at borough parking lots, along streets and at Water Street Park. Hudak said some of the borough’s energy and energy-control systems are old and inefficient and “are not talking to each other” and in some cases “are fighting each other.”

At several locations Constellation recommends a switch to induction lighting fixtures. Induction lighting, according to the company, is designed for long life, with a lamp life cycle up to 100,000 hours and with a 10-year warranty.

Upgrades suggested for the borough administration building include replacement of the boiler, new controls for the boiler, pumps, exhaust fans and rooftop units, and new windows.

The improvements suggested for the century-old Community Center Building at Ninth and Philadelphia streets include new lighting fixtures, a boiler replacement, new heating, fan and rooftop unit controls, new windows and either a $50,000 patching of the terra cotta roof or a $147,000 total replacement of the roof. Constellation’s suggested upgrades just for the Community Center Building total more than $1 million.

The borough’s “barn,” along the 1100 block of Church Street, houses the street department maintenance equipment and crews. It’s heated but has no insulation. Constellation’s proposals for the barn include ceiling insulation and an exhaust system to vent engine and welding fumes from the building.

Council and the borough’s staff must next decide how many of Constellation’s recommended energy conservation measures should be undertaken and which of the suggested upgrades might be paid for from a $500,000 state grant received last fall, rather than through a bank loan.

John Hartman, chairman of council’s Public Works Committee, asked council and borough staffers to give their input soon on which projects they feel are most important. Hartman said he intends to have his committee make a recommendation on Constellation’s plan at the May 6 council meeting.

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