City energy conservation strategy/energy efficiency conservation block grant

→ Small-scale wind power assessment—Urban Wind Turbines
→ Hydropower assessment—both large-scale and micro-scale
→ Large-scale wind power assessment—potential     development of a
wind farm
→ Concourse parking garage—energy-efficient lighting retrofit

By Brian Eber, CFM
City of Rockford Storm Water Program Manager

Editor’s note: the following material contains many of Mr. Eber’s remarks at the 3rd Annual Winnebago County Green Business Awards, October 7, at the Webbs Norman Center, and expands upon them.

Continuing many y ears o f The Rock River Times’ commitment to sustainability, this material is part of a continuing series of information presented at the awards.

Background analysis

→ In 2009, the City was informed that it would receive approximately $1.6 million in an Energy Efficiency Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) through the Department of Energy (DOE). This program was created through the use of federal Economic Stimulus funds.

→ City staff assembled several project proposals that would allow the award of the $1.6 million in funding through the EECBG grant program.

→ As part of the grant process, the city was required to assemble an Energy Conservation Strategy document that outlined, in general terms, the approach to energy efficiency that the city was moving toward.

→ The various proposals that accompanied the EECBG applications included small- and large-scale wind projects, emissions inventory, energy-efficient building upgrades, IT—energy-efficient server system upgrades, energy code inspections, hydroelectric power analysis, waste-to-profit program, and parking lot lighting retrofit.

City Energy Conservation Strategy

→ City staff has attached a copy of the Energy Conservation Strategy document for review. The document highlights the efforts of the Green Communities Coalition Group; specific sustainability/energy efficiency/resource management goals for the city; and, specific plans for implementation of the EECBG program funds.

→ Additional highlights of the strategy document include the following:

→ U.S. Conference of Mayors Climate Protection Agreement (approved by the city in 2008);

→ The potential development of a 200-acre solar panel field.

Office of Mayor Lawrence J. Morrissey

→ The emphasis of creating public-private partnerships that will allow the city and region to leverage additional funding (or job creation) through the use of energy-efficient technologies;

→ A commitment to moving forward with establishing a baseline of the city’s carbon footprint; and,

→ Ultimately leverage our manufacturing/research and development heritage to bring additional green employment to the region.

→ The EECBG application is a stepping stone to an expanded Energy Conservation Strategy that the city would like to contribute to a larger Sustainability Policy. Many communities are finding that the creation and adoption of such a policy have provided the backdrop for making cultural changes in how they will competitively evolve in the global marketplace.

EECBG Projects: A brief overview:

Small-Scale Wind Assessment—City staff have collected some general available wind resource data for the urban area. To potentially develop wind turbine technology for the urban environment further, more formal assessment work is required. This project will allow the city to gather this data and ultimately site specific turbines in and around the Rock River corridor.

Large-Scale Wind Assessment—through previous efforts, the city has collected table-top analysis data for the potential wind farm site on publically-owned property located in northwest Rockford. This project will allow the second phase of design engineering, including the installation of met towers to gather site-specific wind resource data, as well as pinpoint actual wind turbine locations. The installation process was complete in September 2010 and is currently collecting data.

Hydropower Assessment—City staff has gathered archival information regarding the Fordam Dam, but little is known about its ability to generate hydroelectric power. This project will provide the baseline data to clarify whether the dam could be used for power generation in a cost-efficient manner. Additional hydropower resources that could be utilized through the use of micro-power facilities within the watershed will also be analyzed.

Concourse Parking Deck Lighting Retrofit—As part of the EECBG program, the city is near completion of retrofitting the Concourse Parking Deck with energy-efficient lighting that includes the use of induction luminaire technology.

Project funding

The projects discussed above are all funded in their entirety through the EECBG grant dollars. City funding comes through the use of in-house engineering (i.e., direct project management through the Department of Public Works (DPW), Engineering and Street Division staff, Information Technology (IT) staff, and Community Development (CD) Department staff.

Greenhouse Gas Emission Inventory—As part of the U.S. Conference of Mayors Cool Cities Initiative, the city in partnership with the Green Communities Coalition desires to perform a greenhouse emissions inventory of all city facilities, vehicles and associated energy emissions. A report is being developed of the completed Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory for city operations and associated activities for base year 2008. This report will identify operational areas for emission (energy cost) improvements and recommend obtainable CO2 emissions. This inventory will quantify six greenhouse gases covered by the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement, which the City of Rockford has agreed to follow. These gases include:

Carbon Dioxide …CO2 Methane… CH4

Nitrous Oxide …N2O Hydrofluorocarbons …HFCs

Perfluorocarbons …PFCs Sulphur hexafluoride …SF4

The inventory will utilize protocols and guidelines developed by the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI) and methodology established by the U.S. EPA (USEPA). It is anticipated the inventory will help identify strategies to reduce operational energy cost.

2010 update of the Mayor’s Green Team

A. We are striving to meet or exceed Kyoto Protocol targets for reducing global warming pollution by taking actions in our own operations and communities such as:

l. Inventory global warming emissions in city operations and in the community, set reduction targets and create an action plan.

Current City Status: The City of Rockford and the Rockford Metropolitan Agency for Planning will be conducting a Greenhouse Gas ernission inventory in 2010. The city will be able to develop an action plan toward meeting GHG reduction goals from the results of our inventory. In an effort to be completely open and honest about the numbers, the city will have members of the Winnebago Green Communities Coalition group included with the inventory team. The Winnebago Green Communities Coalition is a Rockford-based non-profit organization serving northern Illinois dedicated to preserving and improving our environment through positive action.

Future City Status: The City of Rockford will use the results of the inventory to help kick off both a Climate Action Plan and Sustainability Plan. The development of the action plans will be based on existing plans that have proven results from the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI). ICLEI provides information, delivers training, organizes conferences, facilitates networking and city-to-city exchanges, carries out research and pilot projects, and offers technical services. By partnering with the ICLEI, we will be able to develop realistic community GHG reductions and develop an action plan.

2. Adopt and enforce land-use policies that encourage smart growth principles, reduce sprawl, preserve open space, and create compact walkable urban communities;

Current City Status: This is promoted within the city’s adopted 2020 Land-Use Plan, and we encourage following best management practices through our design review of land development.

Future City Status: The rewrite of the Zoning Ordinance will implement a number of these aspects including and encouraging a compact and walkable community.

There will also be requirements to preserve woodland tracts and encourage open space within the ordinance.

3. Promote transportation options such as bicycle trails, commuter trip reduction programs, incentives for car pooling and public transit;

Current City Status: The city marked 9 miles of on-street bike lanes and has planned additional miles of on-street bike lanes for 2011

Future City Status: A study regarding the integration of bike paths and walkways as a part of future transportation planning has recently been completed. Findings from the study will continue to serve as our baseline for future transportation plans in the region.

The Zoning Ordinance rewrite includes parking requirements for bicycles when developing multifamily and commercial developments.

4. Increase the use of clean, alternative energy by, for example, investing in “green tags” advocating for the development of renewable energy resources, recovering landfill methane for energy production, and supporting the use of waste to energy technology;

Current City Status: The City of Rockford has begun an assessment of the use of alternative energy to help offset the energy demands that it currently has. The city will conduct a large wind turbine feasibility study to determine what the benefits are in relationship to the long-term cost. The city will also construct small wind turbine technology in its downtown parking lots and along the new Main Street roadway. The city has partnered with the Rockford Airport Authority on the development of a 100-acre site for the installation of a solar panel field. This field would produce close to 100 megawatts of solar energy power. The city will also conduct a feasibility study of use of hydropower at the Fordam Dam site to directly offset downtown energy cost.

Future City Status: One goal of the use of alternative renewable energy would be the establishment of a Renewable Energy Credit (REC). The REC would be an option for businesses and governments to support a level of investment in the Rockford Wind/ Solar Panel/ Hydropower energy resources. Participating customers could pay a premium on their electric bills to cover the incremental cost of the additional solar energy. In the greater Chicago area to date, more than 600 utilities, including investor-owned, municipal utilities, and cooperatives, offer a renewable product.

While renewable energy is generated using renewable energy resources and is delivered through the utility grid, RECs represent the environmental, social, and other positive attributes of power generated by renewable resources.

5. Making energy efficiency a priority through building code improvements, retrofitting city facilities with energy-efficient lighting and urging employees to conserve energy and save money;

Current City Status: The State of Illinois has set the minimum standard for complying with the 2001 International Energy Conservation Code. In our ongoing adoption of current codes, the City of Rockford has exceeded the standard established by the State of Illinois by adopting the 2003 International Energy Code. Design professionals must demonstrate conformance during the plan review process. The City of Rockford is currently reviewing and will be adopting the 2009 Energy Conservation Code in 2010.

Future City Status: The City of Rockford will conduct contractor and architects training sessions and hold public meetings to implement the requirements of the 2009 International Energy Conservation Code.

6. Purchase only Energy Star equipment and appliances for city use;

Current City Status: This is standard practice for purchasing new products for remodeling and new construction for the City of Rockford.

Future City Status: The city will continue to follow this practice.

7. Practice and promote sustainable building practices using the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED program or a similar system;

Current City Status: The city is a leading member of a task force of the U.S. Green Building Council in developing Regional Priority Credit Program for LEED ND. The city participates in local USGBC events. The city has worked with a group from the USGBC to develop a series of extra credits available for LEEN ND projects. When a project registers in LEED online, a scorecard will appear and will show the six credits in the rating system that are identified as regional priority credits.

Future City Status: Continue working with the U.S. Green Building Council to explain and promote the use of the LEED program for both building retrofits and new construction. Work toward using more recycled and energy-saving materials and products for City roadway projects and weatherization improvements. We are putting city guidelines in place that will encourage the above-mentioned practices.

8. Increase the average fuel efficiency of municipal fleet vehicles; reduce the number of vehicles; launch an employee education program including anti-idling messages, convert diesel vehicles to bio-diesel;

Current City Status: The city continues to include language that will allow for the purchase of hybrid vehicles when we seek bids on our vehicle needs.

Future City Status: Continue this practice and research the cost effectiveness of purchasing hybrid vehicles. Explore options with local communities and businesses to partner together in the development of alternative energy filling stations (i.e., natural Gas filling station).

9. Increase the average fuel efficiency of municipal fleet vehicles; reduce the number of vehicles; launch an employee education program including anti-idling messages, convert diesel vehicles to bio-diesel;

Current City Status: The city is reviewing the number of vehicles assigned to staff. A decrease in assignments is forecasted. The RPD has moved to bike and foot controls, which lessen vehicles on the street. The City of Rockford became the first city in Illinois to become a “No Idle Zone.” This is a program where citizens sign on to a pledge to not idle unnecessarily longer than 30 seconds.

Future City Status: There are some policies and training that can be put into place with minimal cost or impact. This is certainly a practice the city can step into.

10. Evaluate opportunities to increase pump efficiency in water and wastewater systems; recover wastewater treatment methane for energy production.

Current City Status: As part of the Rehabilitation Program, we will be adding control cisterns on all 18 primary wells that will increase the efficiency of the pumps and save energy. These controls (called variable frequency drives, VFDs) allow pumps to be operated at a range of speeds instead of just off/on. For example, right now our pumps turn on and stay on until the target water pressure in the system (high cut-off) is achieved. Once the high cut-off is achieved, the pump turns off. It stays off until the minimum target water pressure (low cut-off) is reached, then the pump tums on again. Starting pumps require a lot of energy, so this arrangement is not very efficient. In contrast, the VFDs will allow the pumps to slow down or speed up gradually as needed to maintain target pressures. This is much more energye fficient.

Future City Status: The city will start to identify long-term efficiency upgrades to help reduce future energy cost and demands.

11. Increase the recycling rates in city operations and in the community;

Current City Status: The city has been working to develop ideas for the private sector to dispose of waste in a more sustainable manner. The city has partnered with a group called “Waste to Profit.” This group will help identify waste streams in our community and find environmental and financial solutions for the waste. One idea that has been developed is the conversion of tree waste into energy and heat through a gasification process at our City Yards facility.

Future City Status: The city will continue to seek out programs and initiatives that will help to increase education and means to increase the levels of materials recycled within the City of Rockford.

12. Maintain healthy urban forests; promote tree planting to increase shading and to absorb Co2; and;

Current City Status: The City of Rockford completed a citywide tree inventory. This inventory includes all trees within the public right-of-way that measures their size, identifies their type, and determines their health. This inventory will allow us to make informed program decisions and identify projects that will have impact on the health of our urban forest. The city has also partnered with a public/private Reforestation initiative that is working toward a plan to manageo ur tree canopy in a sustainable manner. An expected outcome would be to have the city formally adopt the goals of this reforestation initiative.

Future city Status: A Comprehensive Urban Forestry Management Program Comprised of but not limited to:

→ Update Public Tree Inventory

→ Update Forestry Ordinances

→ Establish a Defined Comprehensive Pruning Program

→ Establish a Reforestation Program

→ Establish a Resident, Cost Sharing, Planting Program

From the Oct. 20-26, 2010 issue

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