The Douglas County Commission authorized Wednesday upgrades to the courthouse heating and cooling systems that will save thousands of dollars a year in utility bills.
The project includes a new programmable thermostat system so that temperatures can be controlled on a room-by-room basis. It will also involve new air handling systems and new systems for distributing hot and chilled water, among other things.
Douglas County currently between $3,300 and $7,400 a month in gas and electricity bills for the courthouse. Bill Bell, the county's maintenance director, said the upgrades should reduce those costs by at least $11,000 a year.
Commissioners waived the normal bidding process in order to acquire the technology through Control Services Company Inc., of Lee's Summit, Mo., the same firm the county used in recent upgrades to the Judicial and Law Enforcement Center. The county has budgeted $155,000 for the project.
Eileen Horn, the county's sustainability coordinator, said improving energy efficiency is a high priority for the county. In December, she reported that upgrades to the Judicial and Law Enforcement Center had saved the county more than $100,000 in 2012. She said the Douglas County Extension Office, which also underwent recent upgrades, was ranked in a survey by the National Association of Counties as the second most energy efficient county-owned buildings in the nation.