Conserving energy, saving money, replacing out-of-date equipment and providing a creative financing solution for capital improvements are all part of the GWCCA’s Guaranteed Energy Savings Performance Contracting (EPC) project with Trane – the largest stand-alone EPC project in the state of Georgia, and also the largest in the country for public assembly venues.
A multifaceted $28 million project, construction began in October 2015 with the replacement of up to 40-year-old equipment in the GWCC’s Building B central plant, including installation of new, custom-built chillers – accomplished without interrupting the day-to-day activity on campus or affecting the customer experience.
Other aspects of the pact include replacement of GWCC’s interior, exterior, and exhibit hall lighting, along with Centennial Olympic Park’s lighting, all with more energy-efficient illumination, upgrading onsite water feature motors, and recycling of construction waste. Of the latter, 530,946 pounds of construction waste had been recycled by the end of FY16.
Although it is the largest LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified convention center in the world, a structure the size of the GWCC – 3.9 million square feet – still consumes large amounts of energy and utilities annually. During construction of the Authority’s EPC project, $120,000 was saved in water costs and $90,000 saved on electricity, when comparing utility bills from FY2016 to the same time frames in FY2015. The project is earmarked to save $2,547,695 in its first year!
What exactly is Energy Performance Contracting? In essence, it is an innovative way to fund improvements in existing buildings through energy conservation. The cost savings from reduced energy consumption are utilized to repay the cost of installing energy-conservation equipment. Through the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority’s Energy Performance Contracting Program, state agencies, such as the GWCCA, can partner with energy service firms to complete cost-savings and energy efficiency projects.
But this wasn’t always the case. The Georgia Constitution was amended in November 2010 to allow state agencies to use Energy Performance Contracting. The Authority’s pact with Trance is guaranteed, meaning that if the specified reduction in energy use is not met, then the company will pay the GWCCA the difference, thus reducing the project’s risk while providing meaningful and necessary enhancements.