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Green grant targets energy savings

The county isn’t necessarily going green, but more green will begoing back to taxpayers after the courthouse is outfitted with newenergy-efficient components expected to save tens of thousands ofdollars annually.

Lincoln County Administrator David Fields said the county hasbeen approved for an almost $300,000 Energy Efficiency CommunityBlock Grant that will allow a bevy of heating, cooling, plumbingand electrical work on the approximately 30-year-old LincolnCounty-Brookhaven Government Complex. Once all the work iscompleted, the county should end up saving about $34,000 annuallyon utility bills – almost 15 percent of the annual $240,000cost.

“For the $17,000 we had to match on this grant, that’s not a badswap-out,” Fields said. “If the bids come in a little low, it maynot even cost us much of anything to get it done.”

Fields said the majority of the pending project would focus onupgrading the heating and air-condition, replacing old lightfixtures with high-efficiency lights and installing new boilers andwater-heaters. But the grant will also allow other, smallerupgrades, like outdoor lights and new bulbs in the parking lots,the installation of water-saving low flow toilets, digitalthermostats and dehumidifiers for the courthouse atrium.

“We lose a lot of cooling, especially in the afternoon on thefront side of the building,” Fields said. “This will let us putsome solar shades on those windows. And most of our pole lightsacross the parking lot and building are out and torn up.”

The county qualified for the grant by undergoing a $5,000 energyaudit, the cost of which will be reimbursed in the grant funding.The grant amount began much lower than $300,000, but the allotmentwas increased because city government offices are housed in thesame building, Fields said.

Dungan Engineering, PA Civil Engineer Ryan Holmes, the countyengineer, said the opening phases of the project would proceedquickly, perhaps within three months. Once work begins, however, itmay take a while to complete.

“It’s a public facility, so we’re going to have to work aroundthe people, the courts and the offices,” Holmes said. “We’re goingto have to make upgrades around the entire facility.”

The grant is funded by the American Recovery and ReinvestmentAct and administered through the Mississippi DevelopmentAuthority.