City of Lake Crystal

Engaging and Saving with Energy Benchmarking

The story from Lake Crystal shows that leadership must not necessarily come from the top; interns can do a great deal of directing positive change in a city.  With AmeriCorps member Joan Van Grinsven at the helm, the city has reengaged with B3 Benchmarking in the past year and is making improvements based on the results. 

Joan directed the updating of meter readings and building information in B3 Benchmarking and examined the analyses provided by the program for both the city and school district.  "To the surprise of many, the city's building's fell all across the spectrum of performance, with the newest building on the poorer performing side." 

She then considered the next-step options available for the city saying, "Since Lake Crystal couldn't go forward with the Guaranteed Energy Savings Program due to budget constraints, we prioritized the Lake Crystal Area Recreation Center (LCARC) mainly by the Benchmark and decided to look at the options for 'low-hanging fruit' first, which [in this case] is lighting."

Initially, the LCARC had a Benchmark ratio of over 1.7, which indicates that the building was using 1.7 times the energy a building built to today's energy code would use. To reduce this number, the city has incorporated an array of low-cost projects including: putting in VendingMisors on vending machines, installing low flow faucets and shower-heads, utilizing a hot tub cover to retain heat when the tub is not in use, and conducting a full-site lighting retrofit.  Although the lighting retrofit is not yet fully complete, the LCARC's Benchmark ratio has dropped significantly to 1.45 and electric usage has decreased almost 5%.

Having someone make energy efficiency a priority, even for a short period of time, can have lasting benefits for an organization.  Joan succeeded in updating the city's B3 Benchmarking information, engaging building leaders, prioritizing improvement projects, and providing "next step" recommendations following her 11 months of service. These accomplishments have put the city on a trajectory of improved energy efficiency and cost savings for the long term.  

To learn more about the city's progress or the MN GreenCorps program, visit the City of Lake Crystal  and MN GreenCorps respectively.  
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