Lawrence City Commission to consider $11.3 million in energy efficiency upgrades

City of Lawrence facilities could soon get millions in upgrades to make them more energy efficient.

At their meeting Tuesday, city commissioners will vote whether to approve $11.3 million in energy efficient improvements to lighting, heating and cooling systems, and other city equipment.

“It’s going to yield some really visible and exciting energy saving projects for the city,” said Eileen Horn, sustainability coordinator for Lawrence and Douglas County. “And we’re going to get to do them all at once, which we never get to do.”

A key part of the deal is that the energy savings balance out to cover the costs of the improvements, which will be paid for using green bonds, the first such bonds to be issued in Kansas. All the improvements scheduled as part of the project would pay for themselves over the 22-year payback period of the bonds.

Horn said the scope of the improvements were picked in order to create a neutral budget impact.

“It allows us to use energy saving to pay back the financing,” Horn said. “We basically scaled the scope of the project to the energy savings, so some projects had to fall off the list.”

The general contractor of the project, Lawrence-based 360 Energy Engineers, completed an energy audit of all the city’s facilities and will guarantee the energy savings as part of a performance contract with the city.

The project is part of the state’s Facilities Conservation Improvement Program, which the commission voted to join in December 2015. Horn said FCIP reviewed the energy savings estimates and a legal team reviewed the performance contract with 360 Energy Engineers.

If approved by the commission, the improvements would call for 30 comprehensive projects, some of which will make improvements to all of the approximately 50 facilities operated by the city. Horn said if approved by the commission, construction would begin in March, with the goal of completing all projects by December.

Four of the projects would top $1 million and are as follows:

• Energy and indoor air quality improvements at the Indoor Aquatic Center: about $1.7 million

• LED lights and updated controls for all city buildings: about $1.4 million.

•Updated lighting for sports fields operated by the Parks and Recreation Department: about $1.3 million

•Upgrades, additions and optimization of heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems for all city buildings: about $1.1 million

The City Commission meets at 5:45 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall, 6 E. Sixth St.