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Going Down? Sure, If You're Referring to Energy Usage in Indianapolis
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October 19, 2012

Going Down? Sure, If You're Referring to Energy Usage in Indianapolis

By Cheryl Kaften
TMCnet Contributor

By 4 p.m. on Thursday, October 18, employees at the City-County Building in Indianapolis knew they had used 53,444 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity during the work day, representing $45,216.26, or enough to pay for about 1,604 gallons of gasoline. What’s more, by consulting a Total Electricity Consumption dashboard on their own computers, they could compare their usage to the data for the day before, when energy consumption had been 33 percent lower.

The building dashboards have been goading Indianapolis employees to power down and unplug since they went online in 2011. They come from Oakland, California-based Lucid, a privately held cleantech software company and a pioneer in providing real-time information feedback to teach, inspire behavior change, and save energy and water resources in buildings.

And they are just one successful component of the Sustain Indy program launched by Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard in 2008, which has saved the City-County Building (CCB), alone, about $750,000 since retrofits were completed in the large office complex in September 2011 – and will continue to conserve that amount on an annual basis for the next 15 years.

The retrofits to the CCB were spearheaded by the Mayor as a way of demonstrating how sustainability measures would transform the 50-year-old CCB, making it a model for green building throughout the city. As a result, the City-County Building has become one of the most energy-efficient government office buildings in the United States.

Indeed, the retrofit upgrades have decreased electricity consumption by 39 percent, steam consumption by 93 percent, and water consumption by 40 percent. The innovative improvements within the CCB include:

  • Heating, cooling and ventilation system improvements
  • Expanded building controls
  • Lighting occupancy sensors
  • Installation of renewable energy with a geothermal heat-recovery chiller system, and solar thermal and solar photovoltaic systems
  • Solar- and wind-powered LED plaza lights
  • 14 bicycle racks
  • Low-flow plumbing fixtures in every public restroom
  • 1.6 gallon per-flush commodes and efficient urinals
  • Turbine-driven, touchless restroom faucets powered by the incoming water stream

From one building to 61 citywide

“The changes we [have made] to the City-County Building and city-owned buildings across the system –and the savings involved – are a perfect example of how the city can become more sustainable while being economical,” said Mayor Ballard. “Making Indianapolis one of the most sustainable cities in the Midwest improves quality of life for our residents by being smarter about taxpayer dollars and creating a cleaner environment. Our actions are driving green building technology usage by both the private and public sectors.” 

The upgrades were funded primarily through a guaranteed energy savings contract, with supplemental funding provided from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant. The improvements are part of the Sustainable Facilities Initiative, an $18-million investment in energy-efficiency and water conservation measures in 61 city facilities implemented by the Office of Sustainability under the direction of Mayor Ballard.

This major, citywide investment has resulted in total, guaranteed energy and water savings for Indianapolis of $1.7 million annually for the next 15 years and a 25-percent reduction in energy use across the targeted building portfolio utilized by five city departments.

Edited by Braden Becker

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