Saturday, April 8, 2017

Better Buildings Showcase Project: Historic Auburn Courthouse

The Placer County Historic Courthouse, also known as the Auburn Courthouse, was built in 1898 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. This grand, three-story Classic Revival structure is topped by a bracketed cornice and simple Renaissance Revival-inspired dome. Over the years, the County made improvements, adding water fountains, fire escapes, and an elevator, which was installed in 1948. In 1990, the building underwent an extensive restoration effort. Since 2010 Placer County has implemented an energy efficiency retrofit to the Courthouse to reduce energy costs and improve occupant comfort.

Energy efficiency upgrades to the historic brick and stone building presented unique challenges due to the complex electrical wiring and the need to integrate new and old energy system components. Further complicating the process was the importance of completing the work while minimizing disruption to Court and museum operations, which continued throughout the upgrades.

From 2010 to 2016, the County upgraded major energy components at the Courthouse. The most significant energy savings retrofit measures, prioritized by energy saved, included:

  • Lighting retrofits: Aging and inefficient T-12 fluorescent linear systems were changed out to more efficient T-8 fluorescents, incandescent lamps in historic fixtures were changed to CFL, and interior sconce high-intensity discharge (HID) systems in courtrooms were retrofitted to CFL.
  • Central plant retrofits: An antiquated, 80-ton dual-reciprocating compressor chiller (Trane CGWC806RDNJJ432P, located in a separate building adjacent to the Courthouse) was replaced with an 80-ton high-efficiency scroll compressor chiller (York YCWL0084HE). The plant’s chilled water and condenser water pumps (and their associated motors) as well as the cooling tower fan motor were replaced. Variable speed drives were installed on the chilled water pump motors, condenser water pump motors, and the cooling tower fan motor. A water-side economizer was also installed to provide free cooling during periods when the ambient temperature drops below 65 F.
  • New high-efficiency boiler: The space-heating boiler at the Courthouse was replaced with a 92 percent efficient boiler. The old boiler was well beyond its remaining useful life. The pumping equipment (motors included) was also replaced and variable speed pump controls were implemented.
  • Window sashes, casings, and sills were updated and glazing was replaced with glass/polycarbonate laminate.
Auburn Courthouse aerial
Location: Auburn, California
Project Size: 25,000 square feet.

Annual Energy Use 
Baseline (2009): 252 kBtu/sq. ft.
Actual (2016): 177 kBtu/sq. ft.
Energy Savings: 30%
Annual Energy Cost
Baseline (2009): $89,000
Actual (2016): $76,000
Cost Savings: $13,000
Equipment for the lighting projects was provided by the local Energy Watch Program, which is funded through electric rate public goods charges. Placer County used its own Facility Services employees for the installation.

Other Benefits:
Since the mid-1990s, Placer County has been working actively to increase County building efficiency and reduce energy costs. With participation in PG&E’s Local Government Energy Efficiency Partnerships, the California Energy Commission’s Energy Partnership Program, and significant contribution and commitment to the Energy Efficiency Conservation Block Grant Program, Placer County continues to make notable progress towards reducing the energy costs and carbon footprint of county facilities. These energy conservation measures, implemented in many Placer County buildings, save Placer County approximately $1 million in annual energy costs and support the County’s commitment to sustainability, responsible building management, and accountability to taxpayers.
April 4, 2017

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