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Green grant retrofits the lights in Hall
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Hall County is working to become more energy efficient - one building at a time.

On Monday, the Hall County Board of Commissioners approved bids for materials to retrofit the lighting in the Correctional Institute.

Retrofitting the lighting in county buildings is one of a handful of "green" projects that will be funded by a $762,000 Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant from the U.S. Department of Energy. The county received the grant as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

"It's a neat program," said Hall County Grant Manager Ryan Arnold. "It's 100 percent grant funded for increasing the energy efficiency of the county."

New lighting is one of the easiest ways to reduce energy consumption and save on utility costs, a county official said.

"Lights are where you get the most savings in any of these retrofits," said Building Maintenance Supervisor Brett Jockell. "It makes perfect sense to do that."

The new materials will only cost about $13,600 of the total grant money.

"Lighting is probably the low-hanging fruit as far as return on investment and ways to save the county funds," Arnold said.

County crews will be installing the new lights, which will be an additional way to stretch the grant funds.

"This is going to be a pretty big job when we do the lights. We have a year and a half to complete them all," Jockell said.

Correctional Institute Warden Avery Niles said when Jackson EMC performed an energy audit, it reported that replacing the outdated lighting in the facility would be the best way to cut operating costs.

"It's exciting to see an improvement in our lighting quality. It will be a tremendous help," Niles said. "The newer lighting will be a whole lot better than the lighting that was installed in the early ‘70s."

As part of the same grant, the county will also be retrofitting the heating, ventilating and air conditioning units in county buildings, beginning this fall.

Other projects include increased recycling in county facilities and schools, and producing the design and engineering for a system that would recover methane gas from landfills for use as an energy source.