By Sally Mahan
The city of Beaufort is spending millions of dollars now in an effort to save millions of dollars in the years to come.
Various offices in the city of Beaufort’s Municipal Complex on Boundary Street have been closed during the week of Sept. 4 in order to install energy saving updates.
“We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause, but the overarching benefit is a 37.5-percent annual savings for the city,” said Neal Pugliese, director of public projects and facilities for Beaufort.
The updates are costing the city $3.1 million, but according to Pugliese, Beaufort will save more than $5 million over 15 years.
The improvements include new HVAC energy-efficient systems, a solar system and more. The city is also upgrading lights throughout the community to make them brighter and more energy-efficient.
Pugliese said the efforts are well worth it for taxpayers.
“You’re not going to get that kind of result by changing out a couple of light bulbs,” he said.
There is also another bonus.
The city is working with Johnson Controls, a global company that works with communities and other organizations to identify areas where their clients can improve sustainability and energy-efficiency.
“Johnson Controls guarantees us an annual savings of 37.5 percent,” said Pugliese. “If we don’t save that money, then they make up the difference. This is where they put their name on the line to guarantee this program.
“It took the foresight of city leadership, the mayor, the city council and the city manager, Bill Prokop, who all understand the value of saving energy.”
The idea for the program came about during budget discussions in 2016.
“We asked, how do we save money and do upgrades and pay for the new equipment?” said Pugliese.
One of the questions raised has been why wasn’t this work done when the Municipal Complex was built about 10 years ago?
According to Pugliese, that’s because technology has changed so dramatically in the years since it was built.
“Technology has evolved,” he said. “I would liken it to an iPhone 6 compared to an iPhone 8. Something made 10 years ago was probably state-of-the-art then. But look at phones. An iPhone has more computing power then they did on the Apollo spacecrafts. Much of the technology we’re seeing in this project didn’t even exist 10 years ago.”
Pugliese said he is particularly pleased that the project is ahead of schedule.
“We were supposed to be done in March of 2018 and we are about four months ahead of schedule and on budget,” he said, adding that it will be complete by October or November.
“I honestly believe this is one of those good news stories where local government is really doing right by its people to spend money wisely, saving money and thinking about the future. Funding is not a bottomless pit, and our city leadership has the right idea in thinking about what happens in the future.”
Meanwhile, at the Municipal Complex, the police department is working out of offices at 1205 Duke St. through Friday, Sept. 8.
The Municipal Court has been working out of City Hall and is set to reopen Thursday, Sept. 7, in its regular location at 1901 Boundary St.
The Planning, Permit and Codes Department will be closed through Friday, Sept. 8.
The Business License and Finance Department will be closed Thursday, Sept. 7, and Friday, Sept. 8.
The Human Resources and City Clerk Department will work out of the Municipal Court building at 1901 Boundary St. on Thursday, Sept. 7, and Friday, Sept. 8.
The city manager’s office will be closed Thursday, Sept. 7, and Friday, Sept. 8. The city manager can be reached at 843-525-7070 during this time.
The Fire Department and Public Works Departments are operating as normal.
During this time, all phone lines/extensions for the departments being impacted will remain operable. For questions, call the city’s main line at 843-525-7070.
All departments within the city’s Municipal Complex will resume to normal business and locations on Monday, Sept. 11.