Chattanooga's Energy Savings Efforts Reduce Operational Costs By Nearly $2 Million Annually

  • Thursday, December 8, 2022

The city of Chattanooga has reduced its energy use by 36 percent across 2 million square feet of municipal building space compared to 2013 levels, resulting in an annual savings of nearly $2 million in operational costs.

Representatives from the U.S. Department of Energy visited the Moccasin Bend Environmental Campus Thursday to recognize the city for its energy efficiency leadership as part of the Better Buildings Initiative, which challenges organizations and governments to reduce energy use throughout their portfolios by at least 20 percent over 10 years. 

The city first joined the Challenge in 2015 and has since reached and surpassed its goal thanks to multiple energy efficiency advancements ranging from new automation systems and LED lighting installations to major modifications to wastewater treatment processes. 

"Energy efficiency plays a huge role in our ability to effectively preserve our natural resources for future generations, while also reducing the city’s operational costs so that we can better fund the things that matter most to Chattanoogans,” said Chattanooga Mayor Tim Kelly. “That’s why I’m grateful for the Department of Energy’s partnership as part of the Better Buildings Challenge, which has paved the way for Chattanooga to lead in energy savings.”

The Moccasin Bend Environmental Campus has initiated a number of energy savings projects since the city joined the Better Buildings Challenge, achieving an annual energy savings of 27 percent and an annual water savings of 24 percent compared to 2013 levels. Together, the projects have reduced the cost to power the plant by $1.4 million annually, making the campus the single greatest contributor to the city’s energy efficiency savings since entering the Challenge in 2015. 

“As a goal-achieving partner in the Better Buildings Challenge, the city of Chattanooga has shown energy efficiency leadership,” said Maria T. Vargas, director of DOE’s Better Buildings Initiative. “Their work to reduce energy and water usage across their portfolio is a great example of how cities are helping lead the way to a more efficient and resilient future.”

U.S. Department of Energy representatives joined Mayor Kelly and city officials Thursday to spotlight three of the most impactful and recent energy efficiency projects at the Moccasin Bend campus, including:

New modifications to the city’s equalization basins, which store stormwater and wastewater, regulating the flow of wastewater streams. Updates to the basins, which are ongoing, reduce annual power consumption from the basin’s aeration system and increase the campus’s capacity to store wet weather overflow during storms. 

The construction of a 10-acre solar farm, consisting of more than 9,300 south facing solar panels that power up to 13 percent of the electricity needed to run the plant. 

Improvements in biosolids processing, which will allow the plant to produce a biosolid product that can be utilized on land sites closer to the campus, reducing hauling needs by 50 percent. The improved processing will also generate a reusable gas that can be used onsite to help power plant operations. 

The city is continuing to pursue efficiency improvements across its operations portfolio in a bid to reduce Chattanooga’s carbon footprint and responsibly steward taxpayer dollars.

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