The Town of Chapel Hill has recently completed a project to install a new HVAC system in Town Hall, effectively bringing down average daily energy consumption 39 percent in the building.

This project is part of a performance contract that the town has with a contractor to improve energy efficiency in the town’s three most energy-consuming buildings – Town Hall, the Homestead Aquatic Center and the Community Center.

Interim operations manager for the Planning and Development Services Department of Chapel Hill John Richardson said that the town has saved even more in energy costs than they had originally projected.

“What we’re seeing in our first year, based on the results, is that the project is outperforming our expectations,” said Richardson. “We have saved $75,000 in just electricity and gas utility costs alone.”

The contract guarantees that the project must pay back the town’s investment over time, which was originally estimated to be $70,000 in savings per year.

Improvements to the Homestead Aquatic Center and the community center have included pool mechanical system upgrades and LED lighting.

Richardson said that these improvements have also led to an immediate reduction to the town’s carbon emissions.

“For year one, the town has saved approximately 570,000 kilowatt hours of electricity for just these three buildings, which translates into about 484 metric tons of carbon emissions avoided,” said Richardson. “That’s roughly the same thing as taking 90 passenger vehicles off the road for a year or powering about 45 single family homes for a year.”

The contract requires the town and the contractor to continue to monitor and track energy efficiency for 15 years, which is the projected payback time on this investment.