Ocean County to Review Energy Audit Recommendations
Aiming for greater savings on energy costs, Ocean County officials recently completed an energy audit via a program administered by the state Board of Public Utilities.
Once the audit is approved by the BPU’s Office of Clean Energy, the county will be provided with the report, which contains recommended cost-effective, energy efficiency measures and facility upgrades that are designed to reduce operating expenses, save energy and reduce emissions.
“We maintain 135 buildings throughout Ocean County that house government services and programs,” said county Freeholder Director Joseph H. Vicari, who serves as liaison to the Ocean County Department of Buildings and Grounds. “We are always looking for ways to reduce our energy costs, and this audit will provide a number of suggestions.”
He added, “The improvements may include upgrades to the lighting systems, automated controls for lighting, upgrades to existing heating and air conditioning systems and some building improvements. This audit is another step in the county’s ongoing efforts to conserve energy and to reap the benefits of renewable energy savings.”
As Michael Fiure, director of management and budget, told the board of freeholders during a presentation Oct. 8, “The BPU’s Clean Energy Program promotes increased energy efficiency and the use of clean, renewable sources of energy.
“We began the process in 2013 to participate in the Local Government Energy Audit to identify cost-justified efficiency measures.”
Vicari said 100 percent of the cost of the audit was paid for by the Office of Clean Energy.
Under a contract awarded to Concord Engineering, energy audits were performed on six buildings housing county government services – the Ocean County Justice Complex; the Ocean County Jail; the East Wing of the Ocean County Courthouse; the Ocean County Administration Building; the building that houses the Planning, Engineering and Road departments; and the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office – as well as the county parking garage on Hadley Avenue in Toms River. During a period of about three months, representatives from Concord Engineering visited each location and did a complete review of the building.
“They looked at electric and natural gas usage, building architectural and engineering drawings, lighting systems, heating and air conditioning equipment and controls, roofs, windows, doorways, occupancy schedules and maintenance practices,” explained Joseph Meyers, director of the Department of Buildings and Grounds.
Fiure said the county will review all measures presented for each facility along with funding opportunities made available by the New Jersey Clean Energy Program. “We expect that incentives may be available for some or all of the recommended upgrades,” he remarked. “We anticipate up to 70 percent of costs for upgrades to lighting, refrigeration, HVAC and other systems can be recovered.”
The next step, Vicari noted, is for the county to review the finalized report and decide what actions would be the most cost effective for the county to proceed with. “Some projects like upgrading lighting could be done quickly and provide a cost savings,” he said. “Others may be done over time. All of the projects must provide energy savings and energy conservation measures to be considered for implementation.” —J.K.-H.