FAYETTEVILLE — A local arm of the state Department of Environmental Protection conducted a lighting audit of the historic Fayette County Courthouse Wednesday in hopes of finding ways to help county commissioners reduce pollution, as well as save energy and — best of all for elected officials — finances.

More than 200 lights were inspected over the course of 90 minutes by three members of the Lansing-based West Virginia Sustainable Communities project and Bill Willis, a representative of the state Development Office’s Energy Efficiency office.

“We want to save energy and water and reduce waste. That’s our mandate,” explained Doug Arbogast, the project coordinator. Arbogast and Willis were assisted by Amanda Dubrowski and Michael Costello.

“Fayette County commissioners have been very supportive of the work we’re doing. We discussed what we could do with county facilities (to save energy). We went through the courthouse today with one of their maintenance chiefs and inventoried their lighting system,” Arbogast added.

The audit came at no charge to the county and could potentially reap great financial rewards.

According to Arbogast, a building like the 112-year-old courthouse would see a payback from its initial investment in less than three years. And the new compact fluorescent bulbs promoted by Arbogast’s group have a much longer lifespan than three years.

The courthouse currently utilizes the older fluorescent bulbs and magnetic ballasts. A simple transition from magnetic to electronic ballasts would reduce energy usage from 10 watts per light to only 2 watts, Arbogast asserted.

All that’s asked of county officials is $20,000 in seed money, which would be matched in kind by a Development Office grant earmarked for lighting efficiency upgrades. Arbogast said he hopes to have a report generated from Willis’ analysis of the courthouse in time for Fayetteville’s Earth Day event on April 22.

Later on, he and the project’s six interns will inventory other county properties, including the sheriff’s office, the prosecuting attorney’s office, the courthouse annex and the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Building.

The endeavor is part of a year-long pollution prevention effort sponsored by DEP, the Student Conservation Association and the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation.

Sustainable Communities members work to educate residents in Braxton, Fayette, Gilmer and Nicholas counties about opportunities for energy and water conservation and waste reduction.

“Members of the Fayette County Commission want the public to know we are trying to be fiscally responsible as well as have a desire to be wise users of energy,” Commissioner Matthew Wender said.

To schedule a free assessment of energy and water use or to bring the Sustainable Communities project to a community organization or business, call Arbogast at 619-0668 or e-mail him at darbogast@thesca.org.

— E-mail: mhill@register-herald.com

This Week's Circulars