New Grant Helps Shelby County Corrections Go Green

Operating 24 hours a day, the Shelby County Correctional Facility is currently the largest energy user of all the county government buildings. But this is slated to change thanks to a new $250,000 grant awarded to the Shelby County Division of Corrections (SCDOC) to make its facility more eco-friendly.

Late last month, the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation awarded the SCDOC with a $250,000 “Clean Tennessee Energy Grant.” With the funding, a roof-mounted solar thermal hot water system and an ozone laundry system will be installed at the facility to reduce domestic hot water usage. Inmates will be trained to install the systems.

“Corrections has installed its first roof-mounted solar collector and is heating water for one housing unit,” said SCDOC’s David Barber. “The device is on inmate housing building P, with a capacity of about 160 beds. It is working as advertised, providing a continuous heat source through a circulating closed circuit providing 350 degree Fahrenheit to the heat exchanger feeding a 1,000-gallon domestic hot water storage tank. It works on ultraviolet radiation, so it performs in any weather conditions.”

Utilizing the grant from TDEC along with additional funds from their budget, SCDOC plans to install at least six more solar systems as well as LED lighting retrofits in office and housing areas.

LED outdoor lighting in the front yard of the main compound will also be installed at the facility. Barber said this would cut the facility’s wattage use by about half while providing more lumens and a pure blue/white light on its grounds. There will also be more LED fixtures installed around the remaining perimeter to increase security at night.

“We are retrofitting high security fluorescent fixtures in housing areas with LED tubes, usually reducing the number of bulbs from four to two in each fixture while providing more light,” Barber said. “These housing and office area retrofits will be accomplished in the course of normal bulb replacement, and should be completed by June 30, 2015. In addition to the wattage decrease with attendant lower electrical costs, the reduced labor cost for bulb replacement will be substantial over the 40,000 average life of LED bulbs.”

SCDOC has also implemented recycling of cardboard, paper, plastic, and metals in its facility, which has reduced trash hauling fees by nearly $1,500 per month so far.

“More savings will be achieved as housing areas begin to recycle inmate commissary waste plastic and paper,” Barber said. “We have shipped one load of recycled material, with a payment of $1,275.00. A second load is scheduled next week. Additionally, we recycle wooden pallets through a local entrepreneur at $1.00 per re-useable pallet.”

By Louis Goggans

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