Trane says city could save $1 million with energy upgrades
by Emily Adams
SYLACAUGA – Trane updated the City Council about its ongoing energy savings project during a called gathering Wednesday morning.

After conducting a detailed energy study this spring, the company reported that the city could save $61,000 a year on utilities and maintenance or $1 million during the next 15 years, considering a 4 percent annual increase in utility costs, by upgrading lighting in all city buildings and replacing outdated heating, ventilation and air conditioning equipment

“What we’re pleased to see is the energy savings is here,” said Trane Account Executive Rick Carson. “If this comes to an end, you’re going to have a good-looking proposal, good-looking energy savings, and it will be done right now, all at once, so you don’t have to take from your general funds as things break down over the next several years.”

Buildings tentatively included in the project are City Hall (with the Police and Fire Departments), J. Craig Smith Community Center (Parks and Recreation), Fire Station No. 2, Comer Museum, Street and Maintenance shops and others.

The scope of work Trane is suggesting, which may be more or less depending on the city’s priorities, includes installing energy-efficient lighting throughout, HVAC updates in the Police and Fire departments, programmable controls for several buildings, automatic HVAC controls and three new air handlers for City Hall and solar hot water heat for the fire stations and J. Craig Center.

The project could cost an estimated $800,000 to $1 million and will be paid for in-full using the energy savings, as required by state law for performance contracting. Payments would not begin until after project installation is complete, and should there be any savings shortfalls, Trane will write a check for the difference.

Much of the heating and air equipment in City Hall has not been replaced since 1972, well past the 30-year shelf life of most HVAC equipment, Carson said. Trane installed a new chiller at the building last December, and new controls will drastically increase its efficiency.

“Regardless of whether we choose to do this or not, we’re going to have to put some money into our system,” City Code Inspector Wayne Sayers said. “We currently don’t have any controls that are operating properly at all. The air handlers we have could go any time. With this opportunity here, we may be able to get all of this completed and use the energy savings to fund that as opposed to getting what we need from the general fund should we have a breakdown.”

Trane is about 95 percent done with its energy study and will present a final project proposal to the council in January. Once authorized, the upgrades will take about eight months to complete. Lighting will be the first priority, and the new bulbs will use about 40 percent less energy than the current lights.

The City Council’s next regular meeting is Dec. 5 at 9 a.m.

Contact Emily Adams at

© 2012