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Case Study: Detroit Lakes Community & Cultural Center

Lighting improvements save nearly $10,000 per year

Aims and objectives. With an electric bill of nearly $200,000 per year, management for the Detroit Lakes Community & Cultural Center (DLCCC) decided to retrofit its building’s lighting system to save energy and reduce electric costs. The 99,000 square-foot DLCCC is comprised of a 45,000 square-foot cultural center (converted from a school in 2001) and a 54,000 square-foot fitness and aquatic center built in 2000. It is home to a gym, pool, indoor play structure, meeting spaces, a learning center, senior center, and an 800-seat theatre.

Implementation. Being a community and cultural center means there is a wide variety of lighting applications. Many 32-watt fluorescent bulbs were replaced with 28-watt bulbs. A large number of 400-watt metal halide high-intensity discharge (HID) lamps were replaced with efficient high bay fluorescent fixtures. Overall, 409 light fixtures were affected by the retrofit.

The results: Energy saved, CO2 reduced. Electricity costs have been reduced by $9,700 per year, and electric consumption and CO2 emissions decreased five percent in 2012 compared to the baseline year of 2010.  The reductions were achieved even though the building space increased significantly after a recent addition.

“We are 100 percent pleased with the lighting project,” said Stu Omberg, DLCCC’s chief executive officer. “Our maintenance costs have gone down, but more importantly our energy usage has gone down. Even with the addition of 8,000 square feet (our backyard addition) and the associated lighting, we have seen an overall decrease in energy usage. Any concerns going into the project, mainly less illumination in areas, have not been an issue.”

DLCCC electric annual consumption

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Figure 1. This Minnesota B3 Benchmarking chart shows electric use decreased 5 percent from 2010 to 2012.

DLCCC annual CO2 emissions

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Figure 2. CO2 emissions were reduced by 5 percent in 2012 compared with 2010. 

Funding. About half of the $37,900 lighting retrofit project was funded by an Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant from the Minnesota Department of Commerce, via funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). The lighting upgrades to the pool area were not covered by the grant, due to ARRA restrictions. A rebate from Missouri River Energy Services also helped pay for the project. Detroit Lakes Public Utilities gets its electricity from Missouri River Energy Services, which provided the rebate through a program called Bright Energy Solutions.

Documenting results: B3 Benchmarking. Through the Minnesota B3 Benchmarking tool, Detroit Lakes is able to track the energy use of DLCCC. B3 Benchmarking allows users to track their buildings’ energy use, monitor the performance of energy improvements, and allow building portfolio managers to readily identify poor energy performance. It is available for all state, local government, and public school buildings.

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, visit the B3 website and click on “Contact Us.” 

Resources for public building projects. When seeking energy upgrades, cities are encouraged to consult with the Minnesota Department of Commerce, Division of Energy Resources (DER) and their local utilities. DER provides technical support to local government units, state agencies, school districts, and institutions of higher learning that are seeking to implement energy efficiency and renewable energy measures. Contact DER to discuss which of its efficiency programs may be of help.

All utilities in the state are mandated to achieve an annual energy savings of 1.5 percent of annual retail energy sales, so they are motivated to help customers increase energy efficiency. Utilities can help assess opportunities for efficiency and identify if rebates can help finance projects.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Building Technologies Office also provides helpful resources for building retrofits.