With more than 50,000 visitors annually, the Visitor Information Center is often the first stop our guests make in the resort area, and is an important component of the Convention & Visitors Bureau’s efforts to make Virginia Beach a “Green Destination.”
Robert Maholchic, a project manager for Public Works Engineering, offered to perform an energy audit on this building. Robert earned a certification as an Energy Auditor through a program offered by the Association of Energy Engineers, created in response to rising energy costs and the demand to evaluate energy consumption.
Managing energy costs is a top priority for city officials. In 2007, the city’s Joint Energy Committee set a goal to reduce electric usage in city facilities by 10 percent in five years. When a building struggling to make its goal is discovered, an on-site, comprehensive energy audit is performed.
Audit findings on the Visitor Center were shared with a group of energy--minded individuals from Public Works Facility Management, the Convention & Visitors Bureau and the Energy Office. This team recommended the following improvements, which were implemented:
• Replaced heating and air conditioning system
• Exterior parking lot fixtures and wall fixtures that illuminate the building were upgraded to use energy efficient Light Emitting Diode (LED) technology
• Interior lighting improvements were made and included T-8 CFLs and LED fixtures, as well as, motion--activated sensors that shut off lights during inactivity
• Installed programmable thermostats with the new HVAC units, allowing temperature setbacks during unoccupied periods
• Installed timers on water heaters, so water is only heated when the building is occupied
• Installed switches for the conference room’s promotional light boxes, allowing them to be turned off when the building is unoccupied
• Eliminated a vending machine
• Disconnected unnecessary electric strip heaters
In addition, this building has been certified, “Virginia Green,” for its other initiatives, which include low-flow water fixtures and recycling. “Virginia Green” is the statewide program that works to reduce the environmental impacts of Virginia's tourism industry. It is run as a partnership between the state Department of Environmental Quality, the Virginia Tourism Corporation and the Virginia Hospitality and Travel Association.
The results are in. Based on its performance to date, the building is expected to reduce its energy usage by 37 percent--approximately $5,000 in savings per year.
This energy work also is estimated to reduce the building’s carbon footprint by 76,000 pounds of carbon dioxide.
In FY2009/2010, the city spent almost $20 million on energy, which included electric, natural gas and fuel. The cost of energy is on the rise – the city is projecting a $2.3 million increase in the cost of electricity annually beginning July 1. Fuel costs are rising as well.
Not only will the improvements to the Visitor Center educate thousands of people who come to Virginia Beach every year, but our residents will learn about the benefits of energy audits for their homes and businesses as well.
As an additional educational tool, city staff from Multimedia Services produced a video called, “Bob the Energy Auditor,” that demonstrates Bob performing an energy audit and explaining the results. The program is expected to air on VBTV later this summer.