RJ’s Thoughts on the CBJ Bond Proposal

The CBJ Assembly will be discussing a $15 million bond package (to be up for public vote this fall) tomorrow at a special Monday eve meeting.  While Renewable Juneau fully supports economic stimulus to help grease the wheels of a greatly altered 2020 local economy, we believe that it can be even more valuable if it incorporates measures to not only create additional jobs, but to take smart, practical steps to lower the CBJ’s energy costs and carbon emissions for years to come.

Our recent suggestions on possible changes to the bond package, sent to the Mayor and Assembly, follow:

Dear Mayor Weldon and Members of the Assembly,

The Board of Renewable Juneau strongly supports the concept of an infrastructure bond package for reasons outlined in the City Manager’s July 6 memo to the Finance Committee. However, we urge the Assembly to include a component to the package that addresses energy efficiency in CBJ facilities to reduce CBJ operating costs as well as create good jobs in the community.

Since typical public buildings waste at least 30% of the energy they use, there are plenty of opportunities to reduce the annual costs of heating many of Juneau’s public facilities. Another benefit of adding an energy efficiency component to the bond package is that energy efficiency projects are typically labor intensive, creating more jobs for each dollar spent than other types of infrastructure projects.

We understand that many energy audits of city facilities have been completed, and appropriate energy-saving projects identified in CBJ documents, including the CIP, the Juneau Renewable Energy Strategy, and correspondence from the Planning Commission and Commission on Sustainability. 

Items 7 and 8 on the list in the City Manager’s July 6 memo would be appropriate parts of such a package if insulation and ventilation issues are addressed in the school roofing projects.  Similarly, improvements to Centennial Hall and the Augustus Brown pool, mentioned in the memo, could potentially address energy savings and reduce operating costs.

Examples of other projects identified in CBJ documents that could provide energy savings, and be incorporated into an energy efficiency package include:

“Downtown Library.  The downtown library has a very poor energy use index when compared to other libraries located in coastal Alaska. The EUI is 186, which greatly exceeds the average EUI of 81. The poor energy performance should be investigated by performing an energy audit and implementing high and medium priority energy efficiency measures.

Treadwell Ice Arena. A 2011 energy audit recommended numerous measures to reduce energy use. A proposed strategy to improve energy performance was to replace the propane Zamboni with an electric model and recover heat from the ice rink refrigeration unit to increase the indoor temperature. Both of these measures would concurrently reduce defrost requirements. This strategy offers the potential to eliminate fuel oil heat and Zamboni propane, converting the building entirely to renewable electricity, which would move Juneau closer towards its JRES goals.

Thunder Mountain High School. A 2011 energy audit revealed that the HVAC systems do not have optimal control strategies. School district maintenance staff and the construction contractors candidly concurred that the building was not properly commissioned at the end of construction. Retro-commissioning is recommended to improve the building operation and energy performance.”

Other candidates for energy efficiency improvements include these FY21 CIP projects:

Glacier Station air quality improvements
Bartlett OR ventilation
DZ and Gastineau roof replacements

As these lists indicate, ventilation is a significant energy efficiency, health, and long-term maintenance issue for many CBJ facilities.  We believe it will become more critical in the near term in light of the Covid19 emergency.

In addition to an energy efficiency bond package, the CBJ should consider engaging specialists to provide guidance and assistance with ventilation issues in Juneau buildings. A grant or loan program to assist small businesses in upgrading their HVAC systems to address covid19 concerns without increasing energy costs, would be a valuable service.

We think that a package of energy efficiency measures would be a strong selling point for the bond measure. Renewable Juneau will enthusiastically promote such a package through our wide range of local individual and business supporters.

The Board of Renewable Juneau