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Saving Your Facility from High Energy Costs

October 28th, 2010

According to the 2010 ACA Summer Conference Report, in a sample facility with 1,200 beds, if utility prices rise by as little as 5% per year over the next 20 years, costs for the institution could be as high as $1,200,000 or more. This equates to $1,000 per inmate. If the goal of corrections institutions today is reducing costs, how do they go about escaping this escalating expense?

In our last post, we focused on how facilities could save on water consumption. This post will focus on reducing energy costs for sustainability.

Lighting Upgrades

It has been noted that lighting improvements give faster returns on investment than other means. Boulder, Colorado, County Jail and the El Dorado State Correctional Facility in Kansas are now using skylights as a way to harvest daylight. These facilities also replaced T12 fluorescent fixtures with T-8 fixtures, provided LED task lights, and swapped incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs. El Dorado State Correctional Facility in Kansas invested $2.1 million in several energy-saving methods, including lighting, and is saving $247,517 per year. The return on investment over 10 years: 12%.

Before determining what lighting technology to implement, it is important to do your homework. Understand the costs and benefits of each lighting component. Understand what you gain from each level of technology versus the cost. If you misapply the technology or if it is not installed correctly, users will become dissatisfied. Don’t focus too much on a particular aspect of the project and understand the correct application for individual controls versus system controls.

ENERGY STAR Appliances
You see this symbol on a range of products. ENERGY STAR appliances meet the strict energy efficiency guidelines set by the US Environmental Protection Agency. You can save up to 25% or more on energy used by replacing appliances like clothes washers, refrigerators, freezers, and water coolers. By requiring inmate TV’s to have this seal of approval and appliances and machinery in prison industry shops, you will use 30-40% less energy. By shutting off vending machines when not in use can alone save up to 50% of the electricity.

Get Staff and Inmates Involved
HMYOI Deerbolt has implemented a lot of initiatives that have helped create a “green” culture within the prison. Site manager Brian Coats says that it has been shown that you can save up to 20% of your energy bills without any investment. One way they have done this is by getting the inmates and staff thinking green. They hold ongoing greening committees that allow inmates to create ideas to reduce energy consumption. There is also an incentive program for inmates who are caught saving energy. Staff trainings include ways staff can save energy in their own homes and show them how much money the facility spends on energy compared to other things like C&R equipment. This has given the staff an incentive to change their energy-consuming habits in order to get things they want.

What types of energy-saving tactics has your facility used? We’d love to hear from you.
To get more tips on how correctional facilities can save money, follow this blog. For water-saving ideas, see our previous blog.

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