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Farmington study targets energy savings

Saving money in three of Farmington’s city buildings can be as easy as turning off a light, according to a recent study on energy use.

The city of Farmington recently worked with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s Retired Engineers Technical Assistance Program to conduct a study of energy use and options at the Rambling River Center, Schmitz-Maki Arena and Farmington Fire Station 1.

The three buildings were chosen, Farmington parks and recreation director Randy Distad said, because they are the three oldest city-owned facilities and were built before many of today’s energy-saving technology was available.

Distad presented RETAP’s findings on the three buildings at Monday’s Farmington City Council meeting. The document runs about 30 pages and provides recommendations for each building.

It took the better part of five months to work through the process, Distad said. However, the assessment he brought to councilmembers includes both immediate, inexpensive solutions and long-term, more costly recommendations.

According to the report, implementing an eight-hour, eight-degree overnight temperature reduction in the cooler months can save up to $489 annually at Rambling River Center. Sealing some of the building leaks around doors and an open vent at Schmitz-Maki Arena can save $870 annually.

Installing LED lights at the arena could save up to $1,890 each year, but doing so also comes with a cost. That’s the type of purchase Distad would like to incorporate into future budgets. The purchases would be one-time expenditures, but would help the city save money for years to come.

RETAP’s assessment is not something the city is required to adopt, Distad said. However, to get it started, council members approved implementing the practices that cost little to no money in 2014.

“The surprising part is the human behavior part and how we just forget those small details like setting back thermostats or turning off lights. That really can make a difference in the cost of the energy that we consume,” Distad said.

He will also work with the city’s utility providers to see if there are rebates available when the city implements different energy-saving procedures.

RETAP will continue its assessment by reviewing the energy records for Farmington City Hall, the police department, Central Maintenance Facility and Fire Station 2.

Michelle Leonard

Michelle Leonard joined the Woodbury Bulletin staff in November, 2014, after 14 years covering news for the Bulletin's sister publication, the Farmington Rosemount Independent Town Pages.  Michelle earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communications: News-Editorial from Mankato State University in 1991. She is an active member of the American Legion Auxiliary Clifford Larson Unit 189 of Farmington, and served as the 2014-15 Third District President to the American Legion Auxiliary Department of Minnesota. Michelle is also the volunteer coordinator for the Minnesota Newspaper Museum which is open annually during the Minnesota State Fair. She has earned Minnesota Newspaper Association awards in Investigative Reporting, Local News Coverage, Feature Photography and Column Writing. 

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