The city of Carrollton, Texas, experienced a 50 percent increase in energy costs over the past five years, culminating in utility charges of more than $80,000 each month. To reduce these costs, the city - a suburb of Dallas - contracted with TAC, a company involved in building automation, security systems, and energy solutions, to implement energy saving measures at several city facilities. Now complete, the $1.6 million project is expected to save Carrollton more than $200,000 per year in utility costs.

TAC, which is headquarted in Carrollton, installed new energy management systems (EMS) in six facilities, completed lighting retrofits in 11 facilities, and made mechanical system improvements, including chiller and cooling tower replacements.

"Air conditioning and heating in Carrollton's facilities represents 40 percent of the city's total utility costs," said Wesley McDaniel, vice president of TAC Energy Solutions. "The new EMS and new HVAC equipment alone have greatly reduced this cost, while the lighting improvements have provided further savings."

To balance comfort and energy savings, the city operates mechanical systems only when needed. In most city facilities Carrollton initiated fixed temperature set points using the EMS. Now thermostat air conditioning settings are maintained between 73 and 76°F, and heat settings are maintained between 68 and 72°.

"Based on the air conditioning industry rule of thumb that there is a 5 to 7 percent cost increase for heating or cooling per degree of set point adjustment; these minor changes to high and low settings make a significant difference," said McDaniel.

"For many city employees, this is a common-sense approach," said Beth Bormann, assistant city manager. "Many of us cope with high utility bills at home and we know firsthand the impact that very high or very low settings have on those bills."

"We know we won't please all employees," added facility services manager Carl Shelton. "But it is reasonable for us to maintain a comfortable range while simultaneously managing our costs."

Not only have these energy efficiency measures lowered total energy costs, but they have provided environmental benefits for Carrollton and the North Texas region. By decreasing the city's energy consumption, emissions from area power generating plants are also reduced.

"The energy saving measures cut annual carbon dioxide emissions by approximately 257 tons," said McDaniel. "This is equivalent to taking 366 cars off the streets of Carrollton each year or planting 497 acres of trees."

Publication date: 11/20/2006