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Auburn, Calif. – Placer County has saved $1 million a year since 2008 through a comprehensive effort to reduce energy use across its facilities.

As energy saving technology improves, Placer County continues to assess ways to limit its energy costs. In the past eight years, the county has conducted efficiency upgrades and began new practices that have saved millions of taxpayer dollars and reduced  energy consumption.

Staff from the county’s Department of Public Works and Facilities today updated the board of supervisors on what’s been done, the savings achieved so far and what is coming for energy efficiency in county buildings, explaining how going greener saves more greenbacks.

Placer County owns and maintains hundreds of thousands of square feet of office, industrial and storage space. Initially, the county assessed the efficiency of both energy systems and controls to understand how energy was being used and how much was being used. When the benchmarks were determined, the county then looked at where efficiencies could be achieved. Facilities conducted cost-benefit analyses on building systems to determine if replacement or upgrades would cost less money over time.

Energy costs have risen from 40 percent to 65 percent in the eight years that the county has been improving its energy efficiencies. Despite these significant cost increases, the county’s annual costs have seen an annual decrease of $160,000. Without energy-saving efforts, the county’s annual energy costs would be about $1 million higher than current levels.

“Rates change at different times of the day and we take advantage of the most economical rate plans,” said Steve Newsom, the County’s Deputy Director of Capital Facilities. “We’ve upgraded equipment and controls, funded in part by grants and low-interest loans, to ensure we’re using the least amount of energy when rates are highest. We want to ensure we have sustainable energy savings.”

In addition to upgrading older county facilities like the Historic Auburn Courthouse and the “Domes,” the county administrative center in Auburn, newer buildings got a careful review, as well. These county offices, like the Auburn Justice Center and the Finance and Administration Building, were evaluated, and adjustments to existing systems and upgrades to controls were made by staff and contractors.

The new Animal Services Center, when opened this year, will be the most energy efficient Placer County building ever constructed. The facility is a LEED Gold building. Additionally, the facility is 30 percent more efficient than minimum building code requirements and expected to see $60,000 in energy savings. The county will also receive $80,000 from PG&E for participating in the Savings by Design program.

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