Unless you’re an expert snooping around the building or have spoken to an somebody that works there, it may not be readily apparent that the Durango branch of the Bank of Colorado has made a serious investment into increasing the energy efficiency of their downtown main street property, and have plans to do the same with their new drive-thru location on East 2nd Avenue.
The local bank branch is already a certified participant in 4CORE’s Resource Smart Business Program, but recently chose to go a step further with their extensive upgrades.
Having an energy audit performed by 4CORE in the fall of 2013, the bank’s downtown property was found to have many opportunities to increase energy efficiency performance. The heating boiler units were short cycling, running at only 50% efficiency, and that the HVAC roof units were running at the end of their life cycle and were doing so after sustaining serious damage from prolonged exposure to the elements. This caused uneven heating and cooling throughout the building. The audit also brought to light (pun intended) that the majority of the building’s lighting came from fluorescent fixtures, that could be replaced to substantially increase efficiency. An infrared space heater in the boiler room had burned through the insulated covering on a pipe to the main boiler, posing a serious fire hazard.
Shortly after the presentation of the audit report, the bank quickly took action to make up where it had fallen short, following the auditor’s recommendations. $500,000 was shelled out to completely replace the HVAC roof units with newer, more efficient units purchased from a Durango based appliance supplier.
After La Plata Electric Association rebates the bank spent a little over $22,000 to upgrade their lighting, prioritizing installation in the newer editions to the building and the parking structure. This investment, however, does not account for the costs of upgrading the lighting ballasts to more efficient models.
This upgrade has already had tangible results, cutting the total annual cost for electricity by approximately $13,000. Their estimated payback period is just 3.79 years, as the LED lights will reduce the bank’s kilowatt consumption by a massive 57%. According to branch manager Greg Behn, the lighting upgrades will not stop there; within the next 90 days all of the bank’s exterior lighting will also be LED. As for the bank’s new drive through and City Market locations, all of the lighting is planned to be upgraded to LED, particularly those lights that will be on all day and night. To complement this, the bank was also able to overcome a common wall agreement with it’s neighbor to have windows and solar tubes installed, increasing the amount of natural light in parts of the building that originally received very little to none, reducing the need to have lights on in those areas.
Although it was only recommended to recalibrate the boilers to increase their efficiency, the bank went ahead and invested $96,000 into upgrading to boiler units that are the most efficient for a building the size of the bank. When asked why the bank invested in upgrades so quickly, Behn replied, “We could have limped along and fixed a little bit here and there over time, but when you look at the capitalized costs versus your energy savings, you’re better off trying to do the best you can”.
In short, it could have cost the bank a lot more to make upgrades slowly. He further emphasized the fact that the current quality of the energy conserving technology made now the best time to act. According to Behn, although there is currently no plan for the installation of solar panels, such a course of action has been discussed.
In addition to investing in upgrades, the bank has also put together a five member ‘Green Team’, lead by bank employee Ian Simmons, who volunteered to take charge of the bank’s internal efforts to promote energy conservation. The team produced an office flier listing the ways employees can conserve resources in and out of the office. Such methods include, but not limited to, turning off lights in unoccupied rooms, turning off unused electronics (especially computer monitors), car pooling to work, being mindful of putting recyclable materials in the recycling bin, printing documents double sided, and turning off the water to scrub dirty hands. The Green Team is also putting a plan together for a formal recycling center in an accessible location in the building.
The total cost of the bank’s investment in Resource Smart upgrades came out to $1.39 million. The amount of resources that will be conserved is immense! Bank of Colorado has completed three recommendations from the 'Sustainability' and Energy Efficiency areas of their Resource Smart Business Action Plan and are well on their way to the "Going Beyond" certification level.
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