Energy Savings Project Proposed for Houston County Buildings

The Houston County Administration Building is long overdue for an upgrade.

“These air conditioning units are approaching thirty years old. One of the units is literally on its last leg,” said Houston County Chief Administrative Officer Bill Dempsey.

But an ESCO project could be the solution for it and other buildings.

“The ESCO project is a good project that will save county taxpayers money for years and years to come, but it is quite complicated for a lot of reasons,” said Houston County Commission Chairman Mark Culver.

Basically, the project will replace some heating and cooling systems, plumbing, and lighting.

“This one in particular (administration building) will get all new venting. We’ve had some issues in this building because of its age and design, it’s our biggest energy guzzler,” said Culver.

The county jail, community corrections, and courthouse will all have their heating and cooling systems updated.

Also, there will be lighting retrofits for the following buildings: Administration building, Board of Education, Community Corrections, County Jail, Courthouse, Farm Extension Office, Pardons and Parole, Road and Bridge, Sheriff’s Office, and Veterans Affairs.

These upgrades come with a price tag of $5 million, but Culver says the energy, maintenance and replacement savings will pay for the project.

“The way ESCO is nice, there is a certain amount given in the contract. If it falls short, the company pays the county the difference. It’s basically a guarantee that we’ll reach certain savings,” said Culver.

If the project is approved, work could begin in January and be finished by April.

Commissioners plan to vote at their meeting in two weeks.

If the project passes, many departments will have to vacate for the work.

Culver said they are considering the vacant Mayer Building, the Houston-Love Memorial Library, and the old Wiregrass Church.
Each building has advantages.

Culver said the Mayer building would need renovations, but the improvements could help land a permanent tenant once the administrative building is back in order.

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