Save Energy. Save Money. Save The Future.

Approximately one million tons of carbon dioxide are produced each year from energy consumed by Fairfax County, Va., government facilities, and among county agencies, the Park Authority manages the third largest inventory of sites and facilities.

Energy-efficient lights save money.

The Authority identified energy management in its 2006-2010 strategic plan as a means to:

• Improve facility lifecycle management

• Seek cost-saving opportunities.

As the agency continues to endure difficult fiscal realities, the decision to find savings through energy conservation is paying dividends.

A Bright Idea

In 2008, the Park Authority completed its first major energy project when a new state-of-the-art lighting and control system was installed at Providence RECenter in Falls Church. Five months later, the site manager reported a 60-percent decrease in energy use in areas where the new lights were installed.

Not only did the new lighting system reduce the facility’s carbon footprint by using less energy, but the rec center also saw an overall 20-percent decrease in electricity costs. The Authority’s energy manager estimates that savings on utility bills will repay the agency’s initial investment in these lighting upgrades within three years.

“The new lights are amazing,” says the center’s aquatic supervisor, Ginger Colon. “All the patrons love the way the natatorium looks.”

New lights give this older pool a facelift.

The Road To Conservation

In October 2007, the Park Authority’s operations division hired its first energy manager, Davood Majidian, CEM, to develop and implement an agency-wide energy-management plan to guide the agency in its efforts to increase energy conservation, lower utilities costs, and reduce carbon emissions.

An energy-management policy was revised and adopted in March 2008, recognizing that the interrelated issues of energy, economics and the environment have a profound effect on the delivery of park and recreation services.

Asked what is needed to successfully implement an energy-management plan, Majdian replies, “Support, cooperation, technology, and operational control are important elements in energy-management improvements, and the park authority deploys them all in its efforts.”

He adds, “Monitoring and benchmarking of energy usage, raising awareness about energy conservation, and working closely with development, maintenance, and operations teams will ensure that park authority facilities continue to become more efficient.”

A county-wide energy policy adopted in September 2009 includes an energy-reduction target of a minimum of 1 percent per year.

Moving Forward

Since the initial success of the lighting project at Providence RECenter, other sites have been similarly retrofitted. For instance, Lee District RECenter in Franconia, Va., will reduce its energy use by an estimated 60 percent once all lighting and sensors have been installed. A new control system in the gymnasium will reduce the amount of time the lights are on by 79 percent.

Repainted walls in the pool area add to the improved illumination.

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