The Arkansas Department of Correction is going greener and conservation efforts are expected to reduce the cost of agency operations by almost $750,000 a year.
Act 1494 of the 87th General Assembly promotes conservation of energy and natural resources in buildings owned by public agencies and institutions of higher education. The 2009 law found that “public buildings can be built and renovated using sustainable, energy-efficient methods that save money, reduce negative environmental impacts and improve employee and student performance, and make employees and students more productive.”
State agencies are required to develop a program to manage energy, water and other utility uses that will reduce total energy consumption per gross square foot for all existing buildings by 20 percent by 2014 and 30 percent by 2017 based on energy consumption for the 2007-2008 fiscal year.
“With Act 1494, ADC began checking on funding and ways to conserve and reduce energy costs,” said Shea Wilson, communications administrator. “This agency makes every effort to be good stewards of taxpayer funds. The green focus will help us maximize resources, both monetary and environmental.”
ADC began conservation efforts by retro-fitting and upgrading lighting and upgrading heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems at four units: Cummins, Tucker, Varner and Wrightsville. Those four units were chosen because they have the most antiquated systems, Wilson said.
Assistant Director Leon Starks of the ADC construction and maintenance division and his staff oversaw the projects, which were done using inmate labor. The $4-million HVAC and lighting projects were funded by a combination of dollars from bonds and federal stimulus. Because of the energy efficient upgrades, the ADC received almost $160,000 in rebates from the Entergy Arkansas Large Commercial and Industrial Solutions Program.
“The upgrades to lighting and air conditioning systems will reduce the cost to the state for running the ADC by $746,000 a year,” Wilson said, adding that conservation experts say the projects will save 2,239,000 kilowatt hours a year in energy.
Jeffrey Richards, senior field engineer for CLEAResult in Little Rock, consulted ADC on the HVAC and lighting projects.
He said the HVAC project will reduce the amount of carbon dioxide going into the atmosphere by 1,450 tons each year. That is the equivalent of removing 317 cars from state highways or adding 2,480 acres of forest land to Arkansas.
The lighting project reduced energy consumption by 8,444,470 kilowatt hours a year. That’s an estimated savings of $590,000 a year, Richards said, adding the carbon dioxide reduction of the project was more than 5,470 tons per year. That is the equivalent of removing 1,197 cars from the highways and adding 9,360 acres of forest land.
Roofs on the pods at the Cummins and Tucker Units are being raised as a part of conservation efforts, as well. All the windows on the units are being changed to insulted, high security windows. All exterior doors are being changed and the exterior walls are being insulted. Those projects are expected to be completed by fall.
The North Central Unit near Calico Rock is in the process of completing its reservoir project. The large reservoir will collect rain water, which will be used to water the unit’s extensive apple orchard.
“These conservation efforts, along with others we implement in the future, will take ADC a long way in meeting the requirements of Act 1494,” Wilson said. “We will continue to focus our attention on ways to save environmental resources and tax dollars.”