Genesee County Finds Energy Efficiency Pays Off

At a time when money was tight, one county in Michigan found a way to provide much needed energy and water efficiency upgrades to their buildings—creating quality local jobs, reducing pollution, and saving taxpayers' money along the way.

July 12, 2016
Upgrades like these in Genesee County, MI are saving money, creating jobs, and reduce pollution.

Upgrades like these in Genesee County, MI, are saving money, creating jobs, and reducing pollution.

Back in 2010, the Great Recession was just starting to wane, but 19 county buildings in Genesee County, Michigan, needed some serious upgrades. The county entered into a performance contract with Johnson Controls, Inc. to make these much needed upgrades over a five-year period.

It’s been a wildly successful endeavor. Between November 2014 and October 2015, the upgrades saved over $780,000—more than $22,000 over the guaranteed cost avoidance that was expected in the third year of the agreement. The county facilities that received upgrades used over 2.3 million-kilowatt hours less electricity, almost 8,000 million metric BTUs of natural gas, and over 2.6 million gallons of water in that same time-span.

“The performance contract with Johnson Controls illustrates the value that energy and water efficiency can deliver to our citizens. Energy costs make up about 10 percent of an average municipality budget. Every dollar that we help reduce energy expenditures is one more dollar for the county’s core needs,” said Genesee County Commissioner Michael Lynch (District 7).

But, the money saved and the reduced energy and water waste were only part of the story.

“Beyond the benefits to taxpayers, the reduction of carbon pollution, and the cost savings, these efforts also created quality jobs for workers in our area. Making our public buildings more energy efficient is something we can do right now to create jobs and reduce pollution,” said Genesee County Board Chair Jamie W. Curtis.

The projected utilized local businesses that employed local union members. And, the leaders representing those members believe this could just be the tip of the iceberg.

“There is a great opportunity to both create and maintain good jobs with family-sustaining wages and reduce carbon emissions driving climate change in the Municipal, University, School, and Health Care sector,” said United Association of Plumbers & Pipefitters (UA) Local 370 Business Manager Harold Harrington.

“SMART members are also ready to do the needed work to reduce energy use in our public buildings, schools, and health care facilities by replacing outdated HVAC systems, integrating new controls, repairing and replacing ducts, adding insulation, and the many other ways we can reduce waste,” Sheet Metal Air Rail and Transportation (SMART) Local 7 Business Manager Jake Denman.

The bottom line is that energy efficiency can really pay off in terms of jobs, reducing pollution, and saving taxpayers’ money.