Governments are updating their facilities' energy infrastructures to reduce carbon footprints and save energy. A recent survey by Milwaukee-based Johnson Controls and the Houston, Texas-based International Facility Management Association found that investment in energy efficiency tools is expected to increase in 2010 despite the slowdown in the economy. The survey, which included respondents from the public sector, noted that lighting system retrofits were some of the most popular efficiency measures.

Government agencies are at the forefront of boosting energy efficiency through lighting retrofits. The E.O. Thompson State Office Building in Austin, Texas, recently got a makeover with the installation of Lumenergi's lighting control system. Lumenergi, based in Newark, Calif., has been awarded several contracts for energy improvements in government buildings; earlier this year the federal General Services Administration selected the firm's intelligent lighting setup for energy-efficient retrofits of two federal courthouses in the California Bay Area. recently interviewed Lumenergi CEO and president Michael D'Amour about his views on energy-efficiency projects in government agencies.

Govpro: What advice can you offer state and local government administrators/buyers/specifiers who are thinking of conducting energy-efficient retrofits in their government facilities?

Michael D'Amour: Before beginning a retrofit project, it is vital that you clearly define your energy, financial and environmental goals. Rising and volatile energy prices will prove costly in building operation for many years to come, so it is important to hedge against this volatility sooner rather than later. Once you decide to invest in an energy efficient retrofit, you can begin to decrease operating costs, save taxpayers money and increase building value. When conducting a retrofit, it's important to optimize your return on investment and make improvements that will pay for themselves over time.

Lighting is the largest single use of energy in commercial buildings, accounting for more than 30 percent of total energy use. By effectively addressing lighting-related energy use, government administrators can reduce lighting costs in public sector buildings by as much as 70 percent. Installing lighting controls has the largest impact per investment dollar on a building's energy bills and carbon footprint, and also improves lighting quality, occupant satisfaction and productivity. This is why lighting retrofits have become the most popular energy efficiency measure.

Additionally, new building codes will feature enhanced energy efficiency standards. Government buildings must be prepared to meet these new regulations. Installing an intelligent lighting system that works with various automated building control systems will ensure you are ready to adapt to these new regulations. After all, no one wants to manage the "dumbest" building on the block when it comes to the Smart Grid era and real-time pricing energy tariffs.

Govpro: Are federal stimulus funds or other funding sources available in 2010 that can help pay for the retrofit?

MD: There are currently federal, state, county and city funds available for energy efficient retrofits, and it is important to conduct extensive research to determine which of these are applicable to your building project. The list of options is very lengthy and varies with location and type of facility. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act alone allocated billions of dollars to energy-efficient retrofits for government buildings. More specifically, $4.5 billion was allocated to federal buildings, $4.23 billion for improvements to Department of Defense and Veterans Administration facilities, and $1.45 billion for military hospitals, to highlight just a fraction of what's available.

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