February 12, 2018

Built-in energy efficiency pays off for new Garfield County Administration Building

New building in Rifle is ‘modern, comfortable, spacious and user-friendly’

The Garfield County Administration Building in Rifle, built in 2016, is an example of using energy efficiency methods and materials from the ground up.
Photo by John-Ryan Lockman

Hundred-year old historic buildings are often an architectural treasure, but with age they become inefficient and in need of significant renovations, as was the case with the Garfield County Henry Building in downtown Rifle, Colorado.

Rather than undertake an expensive and complicated renovation, Garfield County administrators decided it was more prudent to consolidate all county operations and departments and house them together in a new structure.

“We had to accomplish several priorities within this single structure,” explains Frank Coberly, Garfield County Facilities Director. “We needed more space for the growing number of employees working for the county, we wanted to promote productivity and good health, and we wanted to use new construction techniques and materials for resource conservation and environmental responsibility.”

Garfield County leaders needed help to achieve their project priorities, so they formed an integrated project team. Project partners included Xcel Energy, Garfield Clean Energy and CLEER: Clean Energy Economy for the Region.

GCE helps Garfield County and its hundreds of households and businesses become more energy efficient and develop local renewable energy systems. The collaboration uses clean energy as a means to create a stronger, more resilient economy.

CLEER, a nonprofit based in Carbondale, manages the programs and services of GCE. CLEER energy coaches give community partners advice on making smart investments in energy efficiency upgrades and renewable energy systems, along with assistance for grant applications.

Leveraging resources

The Energy Efficient Buildings program from Xcel Energy was a perfect resource for the new building. As an Xcel Energy customer, the County was eligible to tap the utility’s support and rebate offerings, including design support for optimizing energy efficiency measures.

“We have an energy expert review the design plans and suggest energy efficiency measures to be built into the project from the beginning. The expert also provides costs of the measures, projected savings, and potential rebates available,” says Parker Cohn, Associate Product Portfolio Manager at Xcel Energy.

The results were well worth the meticulous planning and detail that went into the project. In 2016, the Garfield County Rifle Administration building was officially open for business. The new 20,000-square-foot space has plenty of room for County employees and officials working there. The building even has a guest office with 16 available work spaces and an employee fitness center.

“Everyone loves the new space. It’s modern, comfortable, spacious and user-friendly. There are balconies with outdoor eating spaces, kitchens for preparing food, and lots of meeting space for multiple users,” Coberly said. “And the improved indoor air quality is a bonus.”

A few of the energy and water savings measures implemented in the new building include:

  • High efficiency heating and cooling systems for greater occupant comfort
  • Two electric vehicle charging stations
  • Low-flow faucets, toilets and urinals
  • High efficiency lighting fixtures and controls using motion-detecting sensors

The combined measures added about $25,000 to the overall cost but were partially offset by $9,600 in Xcel Energy rebates. The measures will save Garfield County thousands each year in energy costs throughout the life of the equipment.

“It was great working with all of the project partners,” Coberly said. “New techniques enabled us to use elements of the LEED® green building program in our construction.”

Coberly said the building’s energy use is even lower than predicted. The efficiencies of the heating and cooling system paired with efficient lighting are significant.

The building’s controls, which govern lighting, heating, cooling and ventilation, are connected to a graphic display. The facility managers can use the online display to adjust control settings on site or from elsewhere.

A separate monitoring system, CLEER’s Building Energy Navigator website, gives the facility managers access to real-time energy data so they can see how effective their adjustments have been.

Finally, materials used in and around the building have a low environmental impact, including landscaping designed to conserve water and provide habitat for native species.

“The views are fantastic,” Coberly said. “We can see deer, wild turkeys and an occasional bear.”

Taking energy planning to the next level

The Garfield County Rifle Administration Building exemplifies leadership in green building design, particularly energy efficiency, while supporting partnerships in the region. Xcel Energy continues to collaborate with the community through Partners in Energy.

Partners in Energy helps communities take energy planning to the next level with facilitation and implementation assistance. This support enables participating communities to strategically reduce energy use, take advantage of rebate programs and renewable energy opportunities, and generate excitement and engagement to meet their energy goals.

“The program is designed to help communities form a team, make a plan that reflects their priorities, and implement change. We also track and report progress, which is often a great motivator to continue efforts and encourage even more people to get involved,” said Tami Gunderzik, Xcel Energy’s Partners in Energy Program Manager.

She explained that the community identifies what goals it wants to achieve and Xcel Energy helps determine what programs and services can help the community get there.

“The Garfield Administration Building is an excellent example of what can be done in any of our communities when multiple agencies collaborate to create a more sustainable solution, energy-related or otherwise,” said Ellie Troxell, Partners in Energy Community Facilitator.

No matter which entities were involved and what incentives were provided by Xcel Energy, Coberly said he’s happy for the combined effort and results.

“This is a building that the citizens can be proud of for years to come,” he said.

A Garfield County employee tracks energy usage in the new Garfield County Administration Building in Rifle using CLEER's Building Energy Navigator website.
Photo by John-Ryan Lockman
About Partners in Energy

In a two-year collaboration, Xcel Energy works with communities to help them develop and implement their own energy action plans.

As part of the offering, Xcel Energy will:

  • Facilitate the development of a plan that reflects the community’s unique needs
  • Analyze data regarding program participation and energy use to enable informed planning and decision making
  • Provide support through project management, marketing communications and tracking
  • Recognize and celebrate goal achievements

For more information about Xcel Energy’s rebate programs or Partners in Energy, visit xcelenergy.com\PartnersinEnergy or call (800) 369-4362

A dual-plug Level 2 electric vehicle charge post with reserved parking for EVs is located just outside the main entrance to the new Garfield County Administration Building in Rifle.
Photo by John-Ryan Lockman

A mechanical room in the Garfield County Administration Building houses controls that help the building run at a high level of energy efficiency.
Photo by John-Ryan Lockman