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N.C. County Makes Investment, Reaps Rewards

Wilson County, N.C., has reduced its utility costs by $107,000 annually since completing a $900,000 facility upgrade to improve operations, comfort and efficiency at 10 county buildings.

Wilson County, N.C., has reduced its utility costs by $107,000 annually since completing a $900,000 facility upgrade to improve operations, comfort and efficiency at 10 county buildings.

The county now is launching a second phase of facility enhancements at its detention center and a newly acquired office property. This $330,000 project will save an additional $29,000 annually, helping the county achieve its objective of reducing utility charges by at least 15 percent annually.

The county has achieved both projects through performance contracts with the Energy Solutions division of TAC. TAC guarantees the amount Wilson County will reduce its utility costs when the building improvements are completed.

"These performance contracts with TAC allow us to make essential improvements to our county facilities,” says Ellis Williford, county manager. “Since we are trading the money we were spending on utilities to complete the work, our citizens are not burdened with a tax increase. In addition, our employees enjoy a better workplace and the county sets an excellent example of environmental concern by reducing energy consumption.”

Wilson County, which is 30 miles east of Raleigh, N.C., was struggling with high utility costs to operate its aging buildings. The lack of an integrated building management system (BMS) made it difficult to regulate temperatures and to manage energy consumption.

Through the performance contract, TAC implemented a variety of energy conservation measures, including installing a BMS with direct-digital controls to manage mechanical equipment and energy usage in county buildings; upgrading to efficient, uniform lighting; and implementing water-conservation measures, such as installing low-flow faucets. The latest project will add the BMS and energy saving lighting to the county detention center and the newly leased office building.

The utility savings typically are generated from new and more efficient equipment and upgraded facility automation systems. In addition to saving utility dollars, these improvements maximize energy efficiency and improve occupant comfort. TAC guarantees the amount of savings the projects will achieve and agrees to pay the difference if that amount is not realized. Performance-contracting projects are funded in a variety of ways, including general-obligation bond funds, maintenance reserve funds, and financing secured against guaranteed energy savings.

Performance contracting is a turnkey method of delivering facility improvements whereby the design, construction, commissioning and performance measurements are incorporated into one guaranteed fixed price. Improved facility efficiency, comfort, financial management, lower utility costs, and environmental protection are among the long-term results.

“Wilson County is able to completely fund the comprehensive upgrade of these buildings by working with TAC and using the performance-contracting method,” says Wes McDaniel, vice president of TAC Energy Solutions. “As a result of these projects, both county workers and citizens will enjoy a better indoor environment at county facilities. Furthermore, Wilson County's facility staff uses the BMS to carefully control and manage energy usage at properties throughout the county.”

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