Texas Partners Showcase Energy Efficiency Upgrades: 3 Tours of a Wastewater Facility, Retail Store, and Apartment Building

By Better Buildings Beat Team on Apr 21, 2015

Last week the Energy Department travelled to Texas to applaud Better Buildings Challenge partners who have committed their public sector, retail or multifamily housing to 20% energy savings in ten years. Here’s a rundown of our Texas showcase project tours.

Tues. April 14

Our Texas tour started in Fort Worth, a city that has committed 19 million square feet of public and private sector building space to the Better Buildings Challenge.

Fort Worth's portfolio is comprised of more than 120 buildings. The City is almost halfway to achieving their Better Buildings Challenge goal to improve efficiency building space by 20% in ten years, with an eight percent reduction so far. The City achieved those energy savings with a variety of methods, including using an energy services performance contract to retrofit lighting, upgrade HVAC systems, and retro-commission buildings. In addition, the City has created a network of local private sector building owners, utilities, business associations and technical service providers to facilitate energy savings in buildings throughout the community.

The Village Creek Water Reclamation Facility, which serves about 900,000 residents, revealed the city’s state-of-the-art resources. By capturing methane gas, the reclamation facility generates 75 percent of the electricity it needs to run the plant. Water and energy efficiency improvements made at the facility save the city $2.5 million each year.

According to Mayor Betsy Price, “We are proud to be recognized as a leader in our efforts to increase energy efficiency, “said Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price. “As one of the cities in the Better Buildings Challenge, we continually look to extend our efforts to prudently manage our utilities and partner with local businesses and property owners to better understand opportunities to achieve strategic goals of the city.”

Wed. April 15

The next stop: San Antonio.

There, we met with the San Antonio Housing Authority and toured their affordable housing apartments at the Marie McGuire Lofts. The building recently underwent a major renovation, including a complete upgrade of all residential units, common spaces and the building’s HVAC system. The result: major aesthetic and comfort improvements for the 63 elderly and disabled residents living there, as well as a 10 percent drop in energy consumption each year.

At Marie McGuire Lofts, we were joined by Tammye Treviño, Regional Administrator at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). One really exciting aspect of the work with our Multifamily Partners, like SAHA, is our partnership with the HUD. Through its unique financing and regulatory position in the market, HUD has been able to help address and overcome energy efficiency barriers for our partners.

Our next and final stop in San Antonio was a visit to a Macy’s department store. Here Macy’s showed how many upgrades over a period of years can result in huge energy savings. This store also highlights the incredible benefits of LED display lighting. Macy’s has been a leader in implementing LED lighting technology—over the past three years they have replaced over one million lamps nationwide, resulting in a 73 percent reduction in energy use for this type of lighting.

We even went up on the roof to see how their new white roof keeps the building cool in the Texas heat lowers energy bills. If you haven’t checked it out already, take a look at Macy’s playbook on how to implement real-time energy management systems. Macy’s plan for analyzing and acting on the huge amounts of information coming from its enterprise energy management system is key to the energy reductions they are seeing across the portfolio.

That’s it for Texas. We were impressed the energy reduction activities underway in the Lone Star state across such a diversity of sectors. To find out more about what these partners are doing, search for them in our new Better Buildings Solution Center.