Woodville brings home national energy-saving championship

Published: May. 5, 2015 at 8:34 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 2, 2015 at 8:34 PM CDT
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WOODVILLE, AL (WAFF) - The Jackson County town of Woodville is bringing home a new kind of national championship for the state of Alabama to celebrate.

They beat teams from across the country to win an energy-savings competition for 2014.

The federal ENERGY STAR program announced the final results on Tuesday of its 2014 Battle of the Buildings National Building Competition. Woodville won by cutting energy use by 25 percent at five public facilities, beating more than 100 competitors including some major corporate teams, according to the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs.

Businesses, governments and other organizations entering five or more buildings competed as teams. Individual buildings also could be entered. In all, 41 Alabama buildings were entered into the competition.

Woodville's team was made up of five buildings: Woodville Chapel, the wastewater treatment plant, Town Hall, Woodville Cooperative and the Bob Jones Community Center. The Woodville Chapel earned recognition for being the building with the most energy saved in 2014. The wastewater treatment plant had the highest energy savings nationally for wastewater treatment plants, and the Town Hall had a reduction in energy costs of 20 percent or more.

By saving money on energy, the town of 741 could add more dollars to its budget for street improvements and other essential services. The energy savings recorded for 2014 represent almost $2,000 in cost savings from 2013.

Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs Director Jim Byard Jr. said Woodville serves as an example of how energy savings can bring relief to tight budgets and help governments, residents, businesses and organizations make the best use of their resources.

“Woodville has demonstrated how a community can come together to achieve an important goal,” Byard said. “Our Energy Division stands ready to assist any town, city, county or business that wishes to cut operating costs by implementing energy-saving measures.”

Steve Harnden, Woodville Wastewater Treatment Plant operator, helped organize the team, which included the mayor, council members and town employees.

Harnden credited an October 2013 grant awarded by ADECA for kick-starting the process. The $8,625 grant helped the town upgrade to more efficient wastewater treatment equipment that uses less energy than the old equipment. As part of that process, ADECA's Energy Division introduced the town to the ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager, a no-cost online tool that allows managers to track the energy performance of their buildings over time. The town started benchmarking the wastewater treatment plant's energy performance and soon added additional buildings.

Harnden said the team frequently consulted with the North Alabama Electric Cooperative for advice and assistance. The team achieved much of the savings by examining the buildings and simply shutting off lights and equipment that was not in use. The group achieved additional energy savings by using programmable thermostats, switching to more efficient LED lighting and installing timers that automatically shut off the lights.

“We learned many things about energy efficiency while coming together as a team to accomplish our goals,” Harnden said. Harnden hopes the town can continue its success and defend its title in 2015.

“The true measure of our success will come if we can sustain our gain, so we will definitely be entering the 2015 Battle of the Buildings contest,” he said.

For more information about the Battle of the buildings, click

. To learn more about ADECA's Energy Division programs, click

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