Governor’s Energy Office hosts free green building workshop in Steamboat on Thursday |

Governor’s Energy Office hosts free green building workshop in Steamboat on Thursday

Mike Lawrence

— A free workshop about energy efficiency is Thursday at the Steamboat Springs Community Center where the roof soon could hold a set of solar panels.

The Governor's En­­ergy Office is hosting the event as part of the office's statewide tour to promote its high-performance building program, which is intended to help state-funded projects reduce energy consumption and build with sustainable prac­­tices. Energy Office consultant Erica Ferdani said Thursday's event is geared toward architects, contractors and others involved in state-funded building projects through school districts, cities, counties and more.

Sarah Fox, vice president of Fox Construction, said in addition to that state-funded focus, Thursday's workshop will provide information and building tips useful to a broad range of people. She'll be leading part of the discussion and said topics include managing construction waste, using recycled products and other energy-efficiency measures.

"Anyone doing anything can … at least apply some of these aspects into their own building, even if they're just doing a remodel," Fox said. "I think everybody could get something out of it, absolutely."

City officials have taken steps in the past year toward improving the efficiency of city buildings.

Deputy City Manager Wendy DuBord said Steamboat Springs is using an Energy Office financing program to fund about $800,000 worth of energy efficiency projects at facilities including Howelsen Ice Arena, the Tennis Center at Steamboat Springs and Centennial Hall. The city and Routt County engaged in an energy audit last year, through the Seattle-based McKinstry engineering firm, to designate improvements.

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DuBord said Mc­­­Kinstry has guar­­anteed that energy cost savings from im­­­provements will pay the debt on the project and that it is projected to pay for itself in "less than 10 years."

About half the work, DuBord said, involves lighting replacements at the ice arena and Tennis Center. The city's total savings are estimated to reach at least $100,000 a year.

"The city spends about $1.2 million a year on energy consumption, so these savings are significant," she said.

The city also has received a $42,250 grant from the state Department of Local Affairs for a new solar panel system on the Community Center roof. DuBord said the grant covers the entire cost of the project, which is estimated to produce 7,578 kilowatt hours annually. That's about 9 percent of the Community Center's total annual consumption, she said. Installation is scheduled to begin with the next two months.

The new solar panels and Thursday's workshop represent a continued focus on energy efficiency at the Community Center, which has been a model for not only the successes, but also the challenges of such building practices. The Community Center faced much higher costs and a longer building period than city officials initially expected a few years ago. Fox Construction built it in 2007 and 2008 after placing a winning bid of nearly $4.1 million on the project initially budgeted for $2.9 million.

A proposed geothermal heating system was eliminated to save costs and bring the final price tag well below Fox's bid. Sarah Fox said numerous interior energy efficiency measures, such as heating and cooling systems, were kept in the budget and installed at the Community Center. She'll give a tour of the building Thursday.

"One of the challenges of high-performance building overall is that you do tend to spend more up front … with the payback over the life of the building," Ferdani said. "The idea is that we are helping people learn how to make the best decisions possible given the resources that they have now."

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