“Most Wanted” posters identifying bandits and desperadoes are familiar images to anyone who has ever seen a Western movie. If they still make those posters, and still offer rewards for turning in energy in-efficient buildings, the Cedar Park City Hall would have been one of the meanest outlaws this side of West Texas. Because not too long ago, the City Hall had achieved a different kind of notoriety: the State Energy Conservation Office labeled it as one of the most energy-inefficient buildings in Texas.
But thanks to some assistance from the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant program funded through the Recovery Act, a former “Most Wanted” building has changed its ways, reduced energy waste and is now generating serious energy savings. The grant has gone toward a variety of improvements for City Hall, including: automatic light switches, window tinting, new heating and cooling units and most-importantly, a “cool roof” that reflects a significant amount of Lone Star State sunlight.
The city's financial manager recently told KXAN-TV that the changes are already paying off. The city saved more than $20,000 on utilities just last quarter.
"I’m not a 'Save the rainforest' type of guy,” said Josh Selleck, Cedar Park financial director. “I’m a 'Save the wallet' type of guy, and in situations like this you can see going 'green' means green for the citizens. Those dollars that are being saved on utilities bills are dollars that aren’t having to come out of a tax rate now."
Cedar Park is using the remainder of their EECBG funds to make energy efficiency improvements at the library, two fire stations, a senior center and the police/municipal courts building. The city has also purchased a machine called EZ Screen, which collects old road material and recycles it into new, usable asphalt and is installing traffic signal synchronization boxes at 13 intersections throughout the city, which will reduce vehicle idle time and emissions.
To view the KXAN news coverage, click here.
Crystal McDonald is a Project Officer at the Department of Energy.