County News

The temptation can be strong to minimize the impact of government energy- and water-saving efforts, assuming the costly changes are merely cosmetic — but as Mary Conner, administrative assistant for Yavapai County District 4 Supervisor Craig L. Brown, reveals, alterations to county facilities can lead to measurable savings for Verde Valley residents.

“Improvements made in 2013 to the Camp Verde Superior Court HVAC system alone reduced our energy costs by an average of 28 percent,” Conner stated. “Over the past three years, facilities employees have replaced over 133 tons of HVAC units that were inefficient and beyond their life cycle with new energy-efficient units at the Cottonwood Verde Valley Services building and Camp Verde Detention Center.”

According to Conner, the 2014 installation of Yavapai County’s first solar field next to the Yavapai County Detention Center in Camp Verde and solar panels on parking canopies at the Yavapai County Superior Court in Camp Verde are “expected to generate a total of 1.2 million kilowatt hours annually and reduce the cost of electricity by more than $500,000 over 20 years.” In addition, new roofs for several county facilities are made of state-of-the-art reflective materials that reduce heating and cooling costs.

In 2015, facilities employees started installing long-life energy-saving LED light fixtures throughout the county in 2015, reducing kilowatt-hour costs, as well as earning APS rebates of approximately 20 percent — an annual savings that will pay for the total investment in LED light fixtures in four years.

“We replaced the parking lot lights at Prescott Community Health Services and the Cottonwood Verde Valley Services building for a savings of 28,000 kilowatt hours per year, equaling $3,000 in savings per parking lot,” Conner said.

APS recognized Yavapai County in 2013 as one of only four counties in the state who implemented energy-saving projects with APS Solutions for Business.

As for water savings, Conner explained that the rainwater collection system at Cottonwood Community Health Services consists of three 1,700-gallon tanks, equaling a total storage capacity of 5,100 gallons. The irrigation systems at the facility pull water from the tanks, using a valve-and-float sensor to keep the tanks one-quarter full with potable water from the public water system.
According to Conner, this setup allows the tanks to hold up to 3,825 gallons of rainwater collected from the roof of Cottonwood Community Health Services.

“All of the aforementioned efforts have been instrumental in reducing utility costs at county facilities,” Conner stated. “We have seen steady overall reduction in utility usage every year from 2012 through the present after implementation of our energy-saving measures. We have been able to offset increases in the costs of kilowatt hours and water rates by decreasing our usage substantially.

“Facilities office employees proactively monitor all utility bills from month to month in order to spot irregularities or spikes in usage that may need to be investigated. Whenever possible, we also negotiate rate reductions.”

Yavapai County Custodial Division supervisors recently began testing an aqueous ozone anti-microbial system that “works faster and is more effective against pathogens than chlorine bleach” when used to treat tap water.

“This is a natural, sustainable cleaning system that will allow us to reduce or completely eliminate the use of harsh and expensive cleaning chemicals,” Conner stated. “This green system has been tested in county buildings with excellent results: No odor, completely sanitizing, nontoxic to staff and building materials and effective against mold and mildew.

“Each cartridge costs under $200 and will produce 800 gallons of cleaner per cartridge compared to select cleaning chemicals which can cost $50 to $75 per gallon. The water cost and cartridge replacement is approximately 5 percent of the current cost per gallon of harsh chemicals. The cartridges are also recycled by the supplier, so there is no landfill waste.”


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