Chattanooga, TN (WDEF) – With a goal of reducing energy use by 20% over the next ten years, Chattanooga joined the ranks of the hundreds of cities, states and businesses taking on the U.S. Department of Energy Better Buildings Challenge.
Erik Schmidt serves as the Director of Sustainability for the city of Chattanooga. He said, “The city has committed around 200 facilities that represent the majority, the vast majority of our energy consumption, and that equates to about 2 million square feet.”
Thanks to some simple fixes, Chattanooga has already reduced its energy use by about 7%. That equates to 11-million kilowatt hours, or what it takes to power about 400 typical Tennessee homes for one year.
Schmidt explained the process. He said, “The first step is bench-marking your energy use. And that’s why having EPB as a key partner is so critical because one of the biggest challenges is acquiring utility data from your utility partners.”
Danna Bailey serves as the V.P. of Corporate Communications with EPB. She said, “Last year we did several thousand free energy checkups.”
EPB offers free home and business energy audits to look for places energy use can be a bit more efficient. For example, leaks in duct-work, or cracks around windows and doors. Bailey added, “We want to be a good resource for people in maximizing the value they get for their energy use, so we’ll make it work no matter how many people call to sign up.”
Based on what organizers learned, Chattanooga then optimized buildings’ energy-use systems, with more efficient HVAC and lighting systems. Schmidt talked about the next step being, ‘controls’ or, “Turning the buildings off when no one’s in them, instead of running 24/7.”
The Better Buildings Challenge also calls for using L.E.D. lights, better windows and the proper insulation, with the goal of reducing energy use by that 20% by the year 2025.