COLUMBUS - Jefferson County is now the fourth Ohio county to participate in a financing program available through the Ohio Air Quality Development Authority for an energy efficiency and conservation retrofit of county buildings.
OAQDA approved financing of $1.38 million for the project at its May meeting. The funds will result in an overhaul of the energy facilities at six Jefferson County government buildings.
Jefferson County commissioners, after a competitive process, awarded Johnson Controls with the contract to retrofit the courthouse, children's home, Job and Family Services, Justice Center, County Services Complex on state Route 43 and the Veterans Services buildings. Included among the improvements are lighting retrofits, water conservation measures, kitchen equipment and ice machine retrofits, in addition to heating, ventilation and air conditioning replacement at the Job and Family Services building.
The cost of the work will be paid over time in overall energy savings, OAQDA reported.
Commissioners expect total annual energy savings of $88,000, which includes savings related to reduced operating costs and avoided future capital project expenditures. The utility cost reductions will result in reduced greenhouse gas emissions of 473 tons of carbon dioxide, which is the approximate equivalent of planting 12,135 trees or removing 87 passenger vehicles from the road, OAQDA reported.
"We truly appreciate this unique opportunity to upgrade or replace our county buildings' aging energy infrastructure. In fact, we were in desperate need of assistance in this regard. Financing through OAQDA will meet that need, help modernize our county buildings, reduce our energy footprint and save taxpayer dollars for many years to come," said county Commissioner Thomas Graham.
"We are pleased that more and more counties, cities and public universities are taking advantage of this financing," said Todd Nein, OAQDA interim executive director. "This program is saving taxpayer dollars at the local level across Ohio, while helping OAQDA to fulfill its mission of reducing hazardous air emissions statewide,"
State Senator Lou Gentile, D-Steubenville, said, "I commend the Jefferson County commissioners for putting their county at the forefront of energy efficiency and conservation among public entities around the state. The much-needed energy system improvements will help assure the continued viability of county buildings well into the future."
In addition, state Rep. Jack Cera, D-Bellaire, said "The projected annual energy savings will help strengthen Jefferson County's bottom line. My understanding is that the financing program still has sufficient funds to assist a number of other local governments around Ohio. I would hope others will follow in the footsteps of Jefferson County."