inPRACTICE / ENERGY EFFICIENCY: A More Efficient Approach
YMCA of Southwest Kansas // Garden City, Kansas
Finding ways to reduce operating costs is a crucial task for facility operators, and there are many ways to go about it. Reducing staff saves costs, but also can have an impact on services and programs. Increasing fees can have a negative impact on those who struggle to access programs. This may be why, in most years, improving energy efficiency tops the list of strategies for reducing operating costs deployed by respondents to Recreation Management's Industry Report Survey. And, YMCAs and similar facilities generally lead the pack when it comes to improving energy efficiency.
While 2021's survey results represented a departure from the norm in many ways, Ys were still highly likely to indicate that they had worked to improve their energy efficiency in order to reduce their costs. In fact, 45.6% of Ys had taken such action, compared with 34.8% of non-Y respondents. But in most years, far more respondents report that they are trying to increase their energy efficiency. In 2020, 67.1% of Ys reported they had done so, compared with 49.7% of non-Y respondents.
With energy efficiency representing such an important strategy for saving budget dollars, finding simple and effective solutions is key. And that's just what the YMCA of Southwest Kansas in Garden City aimed to do when it chose to partner with energy-efficiency-as-a-service provider Budderfly.
The YMCA of Southwest Kansas features a 68,000-square-foot facility with 6,000 registered members and an additional 22,000 guests per year who participate in more than 91 programs at the facility. Providing lighting and cooling to a facility of this size can be costly, and the Y found that it was consuming 11,208 kWh per month, while continually replacing worn-out light bulbs—time-consuming for maintenance staff and costly for the facility.
The facility needed to update its lighting and HVAC to more modern equipment without diverting budget dollars away from vital programming. Energy-efficiency-as-a-service was the solution. Budderfly upgraded the facility's lighting and HVAC units while providing 100% of the capital, equipment and installation, requiring no out-of-pocket expense for the Y. Upgrades include retrofitting recessed fixtures, retrofitting surface-mount fluorescent fixtures, replacing high-bay fixtures with new, high-efficiency LED fixtures, installing variable frequency drives on six HVAC units, and installing HVAC chips in seven units to regulate performance and extend the units' lifecycle.
As soon as the contract was signed, Budderfly began installation and assumed responsibility for the YMCA's electric and gas payments. Instead of receiving these utility bills each month, the Y receives a simple, consolidated monthly bill showing usage and ongoing savings, along with detailed operational analytics.
"For the capital investment, we would have been doing this for 10 to 12 years to do what Budderfly did for us in a matter of three weeks," said Chad Knight, CEO, YMCA of Southwest Kansas. "It was a no-brainer for my committee because we had nothing to lose. Budderfly came up with the capital investment, it was just a huge benefit to have the money put up front for us to make a difference in our facility, make a difference for our members, and most importantly, get the energy savings on the HVAC equipment so it was not running at full capacity all the time."
The result? A better, more efficient, more comfortable YMCA area. The solutions reduced the YMCA's energy consumption by approximately 30%. Annual cost savings are estimated to be a total of more than $82,200, with more than $4,100 in savings in the pool area alone.
The energy-efficiency-as-a-service model aims to deliver a win-win situation, with Budderfly providing 100% of the capital investment, as well as assuming the responsibility for ongoing maintenance and monitoring of the equipment. In addition to saving the costs associated with outdated lighting and HVAC, the Y is able to reduce its carbon footprint.
"Many organizations lack the upfront capital to invest in energy-efficient LED lighting and HVAC upgrades but desperately want to improve their customers' experience and carbon footprint," said Al Subbloie, CEO, Budderfly. "We are proud that our energy-efficiency-as-a-service is helping the Southwest Kansas YMCA make their interior environment more comfortable and welcoming for members and guests, while also saving money and the planet." RM