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Tribe's Headquarters Gets Energy Efficiency Makeover

July 27, 2010 - 3:00pm

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With 900 tribal members, a small land base for development and limited access to water, the Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah must prioritize its finances. That means some projects, like fixing the tribal headquarters, with its deteriorating stucco exterior and temperamental HVAC system, had to wait.

So when Gaylord Robb, the tribe's economic development director, learned of an Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant from the U.S. Department of Energy, he jumped at the chance.

"It's been an uphill battle to do economic development on that land," Robb says. "That's why this grant is so important to us."

The tribe applied for and received a $74,000 block grant to fix the building's leaky exterior and give the HVAC system a tune up, a project that's expected to save the tribe up to 50 percent on the building's utility bill.

Using the funds awarded under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the tribe's headquarters, which is located in Cedar City, Utah, and where about 40 people work, received the facelift in July.

The building's exterior was in severe need of repair, according to Robb. There were cracks and holes in the stucco finish, which allowed air to penetrate the walls. It seemed like the heating and cooling costs were increasing every time a new crack would appear, he says.

"It was difficult to regulate the interior temperature of the building," Robb says. "People were complaining that their offices were too hot—and we're in an area where the temperature can reach 100 degrees. In the winter time, people had blankets to keep warm."

All those cracks and holes have been patched up with a new stucco finish reinforced with mesh fiber, Robb reports. 

The tribe was able to use part of the grant to clean out the duct work on the HVAC system and develop and implement a maintenance plan for it. This will allow the system at the newly - tightened building to run more efficiently.

"I expect savings to be close to 50 percent," Robb says. "It may not go that high, but easily more than 25 percent."

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