Hennepin County celebrates ongoing energy savings
In 2019, Hennepin County saved nearly 17 million kilowatt hours of electricity. This is enough energy to charge an electric vehicle 340,000 times and drive it 565,500 miles or 22 times around the world!
Staff in Facility Services, which maintains and operates nearly 6.5 million square feet of county building space, have been acting boldly to save energy for decades. “We maximize our control strategies, replace inefficient equipment, install LED lighting and turn off equipment when not being used,” said Facility Services Energy Manager, Leah Hiniker. “It all makes a difference.”
Small changes have a big impact over time
“Buildings make up the largest percentage of greenhouse gas emissions for the county.” said Director of Facility Services Margo Geffen. “Facility staff are committed the success of the Climate Action Plan by implementing proven strategies to reduce energy and make sure all our buildings operate as efficiently as possible. We plan to be net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 by continuing energy efficiency improvements, electrifying buildings and investing in renewable energy sources.”
Energy savings have been so positive for staff that the department created a recognition event called the Hennergy Awards. Staff in Facility Services whose buildings generate the most energy savings get recognized with an award and the coveted chocolate “Hennergy Bar.”
In 2013, Facility Services set a goal to reduce energy by 20% by the year 2020. Coming in just 1% shy of reaching this goal when the COVID pandemic changed the work world, sending thousands of county staff home to work.
All in all, staff have significantly reduced energy use and saved taxpayer dollars.
“It’s important for Hennepin County to lead in energy savings. Our stewardship affects the environment, saves money and is a better use of resources,” Hiniker said. “Last year, we saved 233,284 therms of natural gas, which is enough to fuel 54,131 barbecue grill propane tanks!”
Highest impact actions
So, what gave Hennepin County the most bang for the buck?
- Converting to LED lighting
- Installing more efficient equipment and building controls
- Turning off equipment and lighting when not needed
One year, Facility Services had a campaign encouraging all staff to change their desk lamps to LED. “It’s simple stuff, but has a big impact,” Hiniker said.