Topeka Federal Courthouse in Energy-Reduction Race
The Frank Carlson Federal Building and Courthouse in Topeka, Kansas is in an energy race with seven other finalists nationwide. The contestants—federal buildings that include a military exchange, a research facility and an office building—vie to consume the least amount of energy this fiscal year and win the Better Buildings Federal Award. So far in the competition, the Topeka Courthouse has reduced its overall energy use by over 15 percent, which has already translated into several thousands of dollars in savings on its utility bills. Track Topeka and its competitors’ energy use here.
The Energy Department’s Federal Energy Management Program Better Buildings Federal Award recognizes the federal government’s highest performing buildings through a competition to reduce annual energy use on a year-over-year basis. The federal building that achieves the greatest percentage energy intensity savings for that year wins.
The Frank Carlson Federal Building and Courthouse opened in 1977. The all-electric building has approximately 190,000 square feet of usable space, with a 4-story atrium.
Much of the building is cooled by four air-handling units, which are in turn part of an Energy Management System that automatically adjusts fan speeds and temperatures throughout the building, turning off lights afterhours. Motion sensors also switch off lights in unoccupied rooms and solar panels on the roof heat the building’s domestic water, bypassing electric water heaters. Even during the winter, the solar system is able to preheat the water. Water consumption also was reduced 20 percent when tall grasses replaced water-intensive plants in the landscaping surrounding the building.
“It means a lot to me as a taxpayer and a court employee that we’re trying to make our buildings as efficient as we can, while we continue to serve the public,” said Clerk of Court Tim O’Brien. “Thanks to our energy management system, heating and cooling throughout the building is more consistent and has resulted in a real improvement in the work environment. I don’t hear any complaints from our staff or our jurors.”
From fiscal year 2008 to FY 2011, the Frank Carlson Building reduced overall energy usage by 6.5 percent. The reduction in energy use provided an avoided utility cost of approximately $17,500 per year.
The winner in this year’s competition will be decided after September 2012.
Related Topics: Courthouses