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What is South Suburban doing to save energy?

What is South Suburban doing to save energy?

Aug 31 2017

SSPRD Sustainability Committee members learning about energy use at the NREL's facilities

South Suburban Parks and Recreation is dedicated to energy savings and is always looking for new ways to improve the District's energy use. Below are a few recent initiatives.

Energy Efficiency

McKinstry was selected to do an energy savings performance contract project with the District in 2013 and implemented $5.7 million in energy retrofits, capital improvements, and other upgrades that are projected to save the district over 20% in energy use and $400,000 in utility costs annually.

Employee Engagement

To further increase energy savings, engage staff in sustainability, and track progress, we're implementing a three-year energy awareness and engagement program in ten facilities. Close to half of all staff have signed up for the People.Power.Planet campaign and engaged in a number of fun energy-saving activities and challenges.

Solar Garden

We currently have 725 solar panels in two local solar gardens to help offset the District’s energy use. To date, these panels have produced over 300,000 kWh and $320,000 in energy savings. And we've secured another 2.4 MW of community shared solar capacity.

National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL) Tour

To help in that effort, the SSPRD Sustainability Committee, recently took a tour of the NREL facilities in Golden. The SSPRD Sustainability Committee (SC) was formed in 2012 with a mission to improve resource stewardship and apply sustainable practices throughout the District. The Committee also runs an annual coat drive and strives to improve recycling and awareness across District facilities and staff.

Key parts of the tour included the Research Support Facility (RSF) and the many ways they are net energy positive (produce more than they use) including use of passive solar, plug load reduction strategies, and solar energy.

The group also toured the Energy Systems Integration Facility (ESIF) which hosts a number of research labs exploring how to build a better grid (integration) and improve renewable energy technologies, storage, and applications. Highlights of the tour included the High-Performance Computing Data Center (Peregrine—the largest high-performance computing system in the world exclusively dedicated to advancing renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies) and the Insight Center where the group experienced large-scale 3-D simulation.

A few key takeaways from the Committee included:

  • New facilities can be designed to be “solar ready”
  • Utilizing a design-build process with energy performance outcomes
  • It’s not more expensive to build a green building if you plan well and make a few strategic trade-offs.
    Solar energy is much more accessible to the public now too, with many homes taking advantage of rooftop solar through leasing or other financing mechanisms.

Other Sustainability Initiatives

Interested in learning more about the District's sustainability efforts? Check out our Sustainability page.


- Alison Schwabe, Sustainability Program Manager, McKinstry