Through a $7.2 million energy savings performance contract, Siemens Building Technologies, Buffalo Grove, Ill., announced it's helping the city of Merced, Calif., to reduce its energy consumption while supporting local jobs by hiring local subcontractors to deliver the project. Merced's energy-efficiency upgrades and equipment retrofits cover 17 main city buildings, seven city parks and the Merced Regional Airport. Siemens is also replacing thousands of streetlights, a major element of the overall project expected to help Merced save a guaranteed 3.3 million kilowatts of electricity annually.

“When people think about green jobs,” says Merced Mayor Bill Spriggs, “they might not think it involves electricians, plumbers, carpenters and roofers. But through the city's energy conservation project, Siemens is putting some of our local trades back on the job, improving the city's infrastructure and putting Merced on a more sustainable, greener path.”

Three local contractors, including Best Electric, Modern Air and First Day Electric, are already on the job, putting current employees to work, and recalling idled crews to implement facility improvements and install new equipment. Osram Sylvania Lighting Services (a Siemens company) is on the job as well, assisting First Day Electric retrofitting interior lighting at the Merced Civic Center and other municipal buildings.

To finance the project, Merced secured a grant from the American Recovery and Reinvestment ACT (ARRA) as well as a long-term loan — debt to be serviced by the energy savings guaranteed by Siemens. The expected energy savings should more than pay for the improvements, and once the 16-year loan is paid off, projections estimate an equivalent of $2.6 million in ongoing energy savings available to help Merced keep operating and other expenses under long-term control.

Siemens is systematically upgrading building systems across the city's portfolio of facilities, replacing dated, inefficient heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems and updating controls with Siemens APOGEE Building Automation System. Siemens building control technology will provide Merced facility managers with unprecedented system transparency and a much greater degree of control to assure the continued energy efficiency of the city's buildings.

A major contributor to the overall energy savings realized by the project is the streetlight retrofit program that replaces the city's 6,000 sodium vapor lamps with induction lamps. Upgrading to the induction technology is expected to cut streetlight energy consumption by 44 percent and save Merced more than $268,000 a year lighting its streets and public areas. Because the new lamps have a 10-year warranty, maintenance and other operating expenses are likely to be reduced as well.