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Barnesville's Old City Hall, housing the police department and youth center, cut its energy use by about one third after its energy upgrade.

Barnesville municipal utility aggressively pursues energy savings 

Old City Hall is latest beneficiary

BARNESVILLE — The City of Barnesville municipal utility, in partnership with Missouri River Energy Services, is aggressively pursuing energy savings. A great example is a project completed in January 2011 for the community’s police department and youth activity center, a building named for its previous function, “Old City Hall.” The project allowed the 8,500 square-foot facility to cut its electrical use by more than 40 percent and heating fuel (propane) use by nearly 15 percent from its pre-project consumption.

The Old City Hall is heated and cooled by electric heat pumps, with supplemental heating provided by two high efficiency propane furnaces. This configuration allows the city to take advantage of the low off-peak electric rate offered by Missouri River Energy. The project focused on replacing two 15-year-old outdoor 5-ton inefficient packaged condensing unit/heat pump units. The two new condensing units are rated at 14.4 SEER and the heat pumps are rated at 2.5 COP. The project also involved the rework of some ductwork to more efficiently distribute conditioned air.

The majority of the project cost was covered by an Energy Efficiency Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) from the Minnesota Department of Commerce (via funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act), with a rebate from Missouri River Energy covering most of the rest. The municipal utility was able to take advantage of a Missouri River Energy Services program called Bright Energy Solutions that offers a $45/ton rebate for efficient heating and cooling units. 

The project provided a much-needed upgrade to the HVAC system for the Old City Hall. Michael Rietz, city administrator, says “staff in the building has seen some improvements in comfort, probably a combination of recent window replacements as well as the new HVAC equipment. But the energy saved is the real project success.” As shown in the results from the B3 Benchmarking database below, electricity consumption decreased 43 percent in 2012 compared to 2010, the year before the project started.

Barnesville kWh w-circle 

Helpful resources for public building projects

As Barnesville has demonstrated, cities and other public entities should work with their local gas or electric utility when seeking energy improvements. Utilities can help with building assessments and may provide rebates for energy efficiency improvements.

In addition, the Minnesota Department of Commerce, Division of Energy Resources (DER) provides support to local government units, state agencies, school districts, and institutions of higher learning that are seeking energy efficiency and renewable energy measures. Contact DER at to discuss which of its energy efficiency programs can be of help.

The U.S. Department of Energy provides helpful resources for building retrofits, including “The Advanced Energy Retrofit Guide for Office Buildings.” For more on energy efficiency, including information on Minnesota’s B3 Benchmarking tool, contact the DER Information Center at or 800-657-3710.

The Minnesota B3 Benchmarking tool is available for public buildings in Minnesota, including state, local government, and public school buildings. It provides the tools to manage your buildings, improve your building portfolio efficiently, and monitor the improvements. The B3 tool is provided by the Minnesota Department of Administration and the Minnesota Department of Commerce, with funding from all utilities in the state supporting the effort. To add your building to this benchmarking database, go to Minnesota Benchmarking and click on “Contact Us.”