Historic Airport Terminal Realizes Massive Savings from Deep Energy Retrofit

In most spaces, 15-watt LED lamps replaced 32-watt fluorescent tubes.
In most spaces, 15-watt LED lamps replaced 32-watt fluorescent tubes.

King County is no stranger to high-performing buildings. As a partner in the Better Buildings Challenge, the county has already achieved an impressive 18 percent improvement in energy-use intensity across its 5.8-million-square-foot portfolio of buildings, knocking on the door of its 2024 target of 20 percent savings. The county established a goal to transition completely to high-efficiency LED lighting across its building and facility portfolio by2020. Its Department of Natural Resources and Parks (the department with the most energy use) met the all-LED goal at the end of 2018—two years early. The county also tapped big energy savings in facilities, such as the King County Aquatic Center, which achieved 24 percent annual energy savings and $127,000 annual cost savings. (Read DOE’s case study about the aquatic center.) In addition, the county’s park maintenance and equipment repair complex became the county’s first net-zero energy facility.

In an effort to achieve broader energy savings, the county also implemented an innovative revolving fund for energy retrofits, allowing county agencies and now all cities within the county to gain access to low-cost financing, helping unlock an estimated $250,000 in annual savings through efficiency improvements. Learn more here.

“We are working across our diverse county programs to continuously improve energy performance of our buildings,” explains Megan Smith, director of Climate and Energy Initiatives for King County. “As a Better Buildings Challenge partner, it is important to us to share our successes and learnings with other local governments pursuing deep energy-efficiency retrofits.”

The mission of the Better Buildings Challenge is to realize deep energy savings amongst committed partners and share efficiency solutions across all sectors and regions. After research and development, or R&D, there is S&D, or share and duplicate, that also drives down the cost of energy technology adoption. Unlike the sharing of certain sensitive technologies in early development, the sharing and duplication of successful practices in adopting new energy-efficient technologies in the field is not only appropriate but critical to catalyzing energy and cost savings that make energy more affordable and businesses more competitive. The King County International Airport retrofit is a great example of impressive energy savings and an effective approach to retrofitting that can inform other projects across the county and country.

“We hope that our work here can be a model for other local governments around the country and show how these retrofit projects can be achievable, cost-effective and meet customer needs,” Smith adds.

Whether you are looking to retrofit a government building, local airport, historic landmark or completely different type of building, King County’s approach to its deep energy airport retrofit provides a helpful model. To learn about many more effective and innovative approaches from Better Buildings Challenge partners across the country, visit this website.


VARIABLE REFRIGERANT FLOW HEAT PUMPS: Mitsubishi Electric Cooling & Heating
HEAT RECOVERY VENTILATION: VS1000 RT from Ventacity Systems
INTERIOR LEDS: GE Lighting; Green Creative; Lithonia Lighting; Lumark; and Lunera


About the Author

Maria T. Vargas
Maria T. Vargas is director of the Washington, D.C.-based U.S. Department of Energy Better Buildings Challenge.

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