Government buildings getting major upgrades
The wind turbine spins on the roof of the North Shore Mosquito Abatement District in Northfield July 31. | Curtis Lehmkuhl~Sun-Times Media
Updated: September 3, 2012 12:48PM
NORTHFIELD — As part of an ongoing campaign to become more energy efficient, Northfield’s government buildings — along with a separate facility located in the village — are undergoing extensive upgrades to their lighting and electrical systems.
Perhaps the most comprehensive involves solar and wind-based electric generation equipment installed this spring at the North Shore Mosquito Abatement District, 117 Northfield Road. The district serves Evanston, Glencoe, Glenview, Golf, Kenilworth, Lincolnwood, Morton Grove, Northbrook, Northfield, Skokie, Wilmette, Winnetka and part of Niles.
There, energy-efficient window panes, insulation and lighting fixtures have been joined by 108 rooftop solar panels and a wind turbine.
All are part of a five-year effort designed to slash NSMAD’s reliance on fossil fuels, according to Dave Zazra, NSMAD’s communications manager. Matched with the more efficient lighting, the goal is for the new equipment to provide the building with 100 percent of its electricity.
“The photovoltaic [solar] system is designed to produce 30 kilowatts — the majority of our electrical needs. This should be enough to allow us to have a net zero electric utility bill at the end of the first full year [the new equipment] is operational,” stated Zazra, who added the wind turbine will be producing a minimal amount of power, less than 3 kilowatts.
The turbine is already working, but the solar panels are three to four weeks from being fully operational. The energy efficient improvements were paid for with a $90,000 grant from from the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation, and funds from the district’s own capital improvements fund.
Meanwhile, the Village of Northfield finished implementing it’s own energy-saving initiative in May, when it upgraded the lighting in six of its buildings. According to Ron Johnson, Building Commissioner for the Village, the upgrades — which consist primarily of lighting fixtures retrofit with more efficient electronic ballasts, light tubes and reflective material — are projected to save the village more than $15,000 annually.
Johnson said the village originally planned to upgrade one building at a time, as budgets allowed. However, two grants issued last year from the Illinois Clean Energy Foundation and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity paid for 100 percent of the upgrades. The grants required all of the work, which was carried out by Eco Lighting Services in Addison — the business that won the bid for the project — to be completed this year.
Johnson said he figured the village would have some out-of-pocket expenses but the grants covered all of the cost of the upgrades, which came in under budget. The total cost was $52,054.
As for the lighting, it is not just more efficient, but is as good or better in terms of lighting quality.
“Before we had a mishmosh, cool white (lighting tubes) ... warm white. Now all are cool white and no one has complained,” said Johnson.