HUDSON — Columbia County has completed a $2.7 million energy project at its public safety building.
The project, led by Board of Supervisors Deputy Chairman and Stuyvesant Town Supervisor Ron Knott, was designed to replace outdated heating and cooling systems, lighting fixtures and electrical control panels, and implement various other energy-saving measures at the county correctional facility, which is home to the offices of the county sheriff, 911 services and the county jail.
“The energy efficiency project at the county jail is a real win for both the environment and taxpayers,” said Knott. “As homeowners well understand, you must routinely maintain your property and its mechanical systems to keep it working well. The situation is the same with our public buildings.”
Supervisors announced the project was completed on schedule and on budget Friday. The project will result in an annual savings of about $138,000 and is expected to pay for itself over the life of the project. Utility contributions to the energy savings project will add another $80,000 in savings for the project.
“Our correctional facility is approximately 30 years old, and its heating, cooling and electrical systems were all outdated and needed modernization,” Knott said. “We were particularly concerned with maintenance costs, which were increasing as equipment approached the end of its useful life.”
The project was developed and completed in conjunction with the energy-efficiency firm, Centrica Business Solutions. Centrica Business Solutions Account Executive Mitchell Tombs said this was the first project they had worked on with Columbia County. Centrica began talking with the county near the end of 2018 about the potential project.
“The public safety building was the bulk of it,” Tombs said. “But we were able to help with some other improvements at other county buildings as a part of the project as well.”
Centrica also worked with the county to get a new control system at the human services building, getting new energy-efficient windows at the highway department garage, replacing the windows original to the building, and some lighting upgrades at the Department of Social Services, Tombs said.
Energy efficiency upgrades can help save money in the long-term, Tombs said. Energy efficiency upgrades can help create a cost-savings in energy usage and from a climate-smart prospective are also good for the environment, and help buildings to reduce their carbon footprint.
“These type of projects allow them to really get the upgrades they need to get done, have the savings pay for those upgrades so they really don’t have to do in debt doing the necessary upgrades that they need,” Tombs said. “And also the environment is much better off from these upgrades because you’re reducing your footprint as well.”
Tombs said they worked as partners with the county to develop the project and include all of the various aspects the county wanted to work on.
“Centrica Business Solutions’ engineers did a great job designing and specifying the project, and its contractors worked really well within tight parameters,” Knott said. “Remember, one of the facility’s main uses is as a jail. It’s a tough building to work in and there were access hurdles to overcome to ensure that we maintained control and security during the installation. They achieved all of that during COVID-19, when we had even more restrictions in place, which was very impressive.”
Knott said they worked closely with Columbia County Sheriff David Bartlett on the implementation of the project.
“I’m really excited by the more efficient energy systems we’ve installed at the county correctional facility,” Bartlett said. “We worked hard with Supervisor Knott, our county facilities staff and our contractors on getting this job completed, despite the difficulties presented by the COVID pandemic. As a sportsman and conservationist, I feel strongly that we must reduce our energy usage to help protect our environment. And saving money for taxpayers is just as important to me, so this project is a real winner.”