The Importance of Energy Upgrades in Correctional Facilities
As correctional facilities battle aging infrastructure and equipment, it becomes a strain on their overused energy systems. This will impact not only the jails and their ability to operate safely and efficiently, but risk increased costs that waste valuable tax dollars supporting the prisons. For this reason, many correctional facilities have been exploring energy efficiency upgrades in order to combat a breakdown of resources.
Correctional facilities are generally very energy-intensive areas by nature of operation — they are extremely large entities that are constantly using energy. It is easy for these facilities to waste energy when they are running on old, inefficient ventilation systems which do not provide the buildings with the tools to operate at their fullest potential. By upgrading the equipment in these developments, it enables more efficient energy use, ultimately saving the prison money.
At JM Electrical, we have contributed to energy upgrades on several correctional facilities including Middlesex Sheriff’s Office, Norfolk County Sheriff’s Office and Bristol County Sheriff’s Office. At Bristol County, our team worked in collaboration with other energy experts to complete a full energy upgrade of the entire campus. This included upgrading the hot and chilled water systems, the Air Handling Units (AHUs), and miscellaneous HVAC equipment throughout the jail. The renovations to the equipment allow the facility to now effectively optimize its energy, saving Bristol County money in the long-term.
This energy conservation project at Bristol County Sheriff’s Office was a Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance (DCAMM) project, meaning the DCAMM division of the Massachusetts government provided maintenance services to the prison on behalf of JM Electrical and other agencies. DCAMM is responsible for major public building construction, facilities management, and other services for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
Having a streamlined heating, ventilation and cooling system throughout these facilities is essential to maximizing energy use. Older, more ineffective systems tend to run all day, every day, using energy at times when it may not be required. HVAC systems collectively account for a large portion of energy use in commercial buildings, including correctional facilities, making energy upgrades tremendously important to achieve cost savings.
In addition to renovating HVAC systems and controls in correctional facilities, there are other changes that can be made to preserve energy, including upgrading lighting. There are various ways this can be done, using LED lighting, occupancy sensors, which operate only when a room is occupied; daylight harvesting, which utilizes natural sunlight in the building; and many others. Changes can also be made in the form of commissioning the buildings or upgrading other operating equipment throughout the facilities as well.
The savings accrued from undergoing energy upgrades are not only beneficial to the prisons, but to those whose taxes are supporting them. On top of the cost savings, operating in an energy efficient manner makes the facilities greener and more sustainable, creating a higher level of comfort for both the inmates and correctional officers. And the more capably the energy systems run, the more efficiently the prisons run, creating a safer environment for all.