By Anna McNeill
After saving $700 in the month of December, by having Mark Fitzpatrick, who was put on as the part time maintenance worker for the county buildings back in November, turn the county building’s heating units up and down by hand every morning and night.
The $700 saved was just in gas costs alone, Fitzpatrick said, they haven’t factored in the savings in electricity yet.
With the savings in just one month being seen, Fitzpatrick and Lori Ware brought forward their proposal for what updates need to be done to the county buildings first to save even more money.
Ware first updated the new commissioners on the survey that she, Fitzpatrick and Tracy Byard completed and presented at the November meeting.
At the top of the list was still the replacement of the nine 25‑30 year old units. Ware said that these nine units have outlived their 15 year expectancy rate, and are no longer efficient.
As an antidote to explain how bad the units are, Fitzpatrick found that the unit above the judge’s chambers, juror rooms was leaking the hot air out of the building so badly, due to rusted pans and other issues, that after Fitzpatrick wrapped the unit up tight with a tarp, the rooms jumped up five degrees right away (see photo on the right).
Next was the need to have a way to control the units internally. With Honeywell having control over the old units, and leaving, there is no way for the county to effectively control the intake and outtake of the units currently. So next on the list of top priorities was for the county to purchase a control system. This control system software would make a few county workers capable of adjusting the temperature of any room in any of the county’s buildings from their computer or mobile device. If there is a unit that goes down or has a malfunction, this system can also update those who have control to the issue straight to any device they have installed the system onto.
While doing their survey, Ware and Fitzpatrick discovered an old mechanical closet of sorts in the ceiling on the court house side of the county building that use to house an air handling unit that has since been removed.
Ware and Fitzpatrick communicated with some professionals about how many units could be eliminated from the court houses’ roof if a new air handling unit was brought in and based off the response, they estimated, by tonnage, that they could eliminate four and possibly up to six air conditioning units on the roof if the county purchased a new air handling system.
Ware informed the commissioners that the Clare County treasurer, Jenny Beemer‑Fritzinger, had offered to loan the county the money needed for these projects out of a fund.
Ware got to the bottom line. After their survey, moving forward with these top priority items, she was asking the county for $186,000 to replace the ineffective units, purchase a new control system and replace all the county building’s light bulbs with LED. To purchase a new air handling unit would be an additional $14,000, so overall, Ware said that they would need around $250,000 to “make it happen.”
The estimate for a return on investment for these changes, Ware said, would be only a year and a half just for replacing the lights. With this project, Ware informed the commissioners that they will have the possibilities available for rebates from Consumers and DTE, up to $50,000 and a $14,000 to $15,000 for the lighting alone.
After a break for lunch the commissioners continued the meeting and Ware had the floor again to see if the commissioners were on board with the project.
It was voted to move forward with the project at the requested $250,000.
Byard said that the county will have to do some adjustments to find where the county’s at and what funds to take the money from.