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Latrobe City Hall may need air conditioning upgrade

| Tuesday, May 14, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

An energy audit presented to Latrobe Council revealed that more is spent maintaining the air-conditioning unit for the building than actually cooling City Hall itself.

Katie Flynn and Cindy Bittel, energy engineers from RCx Building Diagnostics Inc. of Charleroi, gave a preliminary report after conducting inspections on April 12 and 18.

Flynn said 51 percent of the energy used in the three-story, 30,000-square-foot building, erected in 1978, is used for heating, 20 percent for lighting and 9 percent for cooling.

“If we have a mild winter, the energy consumption is something that's going to be pretty good,” she said. “But if it's a bad winter, you're really going to feel that.”

The chiller that sits atop the ambulance garage is original to the building. More energy might be consumed on cooling with an updated system because the current system breaks down during the summer, she said.

“It's been rehabbed along the way, but at this point more money is being spent on maintaining that chiller on an annual basis than it's actually consuming,” she said.

The boiler, which was replaced 10 years ago, and the hot-water tank are running efficiently enough and do not need to be replaced, Flynn reported.

Some air systems run 24 hours a day, seven days per week, which brings in unneccesary cold air during the winter, and some items such as TVs, fans and computers also run continuously.

More “zoned” controls and programmable thermostats could save energy, especially because areas of the building such as the police and fire departments as well as Mutual Aid Ambulance Service are used 24 hours a day.

Insulated garage doors for those departments could also save some heating costs, as well as sealing points where air escapes, such as windows and exhausts.

The company is planning to recommend changes such as occupancy sensors for lights in rooms that aren't frequently in use and replacing less efficient lighting and plumbing fixtures over time.

Bittel said a final detailed report will include a cash-flow analysis that accounts for the energy-saving measures over time, budgetary restrictions, and any rebates available from utility companies.

The report will be presented to West Penn Power on May 22 and city Manager Alex Graziani a few days later, she said.

Graziani said the report will then be available on Latrobe's website for any public comment.

“We've got to save money wherever we can,” he said.

Stacey Federoff is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-6660 or sfederoff@tribweb.com.

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