190913_energy

This newly installed pipe for steam heating in the Engineering division at City Hall is one part of an energy efficiency project that is expected to save millions of dollars in the years to come.

An ongoing effort to make city properties more energy efficient is reaching the end of its first phase.

On Thursday, Mayor Bill McMurray and Council Members Brenda Blessing and Russell Moore met with contractor Schneider Electric to see how the project is going.

Midwest Team Leader for Schneider Peter Hinkle told the group that this phase of the project, which is expected to cost just under $5 million, could be finished by the end of October. The first phase is projected to save the city $221,864 per year in energy expenses.

The project was pitched in 2017 and work began last year.

Director of Public Works Andy Clements said the City Council had expressed a need to become more environmentally friendly in the city, while making their money go further on energy expenses.

“City Council really expressed a need and a desire to be sustainable and green in St. Joe,” Clements said. “Spending the dollar just because you have it isn’t really the way they wanted to go. They wanted to make some good investments that pay off where we could actually see some benefits down the road.”

This phase has involved updating HVAC systems at multiple city buildings including City Hall, the Missouri Theater, the Transit division, the Water Protection facility and more.

A control platform was created, connecting 14 city buildings in order to monitor and control those systems.

Schneider also has replaced light bulbs with energy efficient LED lights in multiple buildings and is waiting on energy efficient runway lights for Rosecrans Memorial airport to be delivered so they can be installed.

Plumbing also has been upgraded at multiple city facilities and Schneider has made efforts to seal gaps on doors and windows and joints around buildings.

The project will be paid for through bonds, but the savings on energy bills is expected to outweigh those costs.

“The principal of the bonds, along with the interest, is less than the overall savings in 20 years, so, that’s how the math works,” Clements said. “There’s not extra money being used, it’s turning that energy dollar that’s not being spent wisely into a capital dollar that saves you money down the line.”

Schneider projects that $6.1 million will be saved by year 20 from the first phase of this project. They guarantee those savings.

Clements said future phases will include looking at the Water Protection facility, where high-energy equipment costs the city around $1 million per year in electricity.

Upgrades to fire departments also are being planned.

Brendan Welch can be reached

at brendan.welch@newspressnow.com. Follow him on Twitter: @SJNPWelch.