Visalia Convention Center: Conserving Energy

July 11, 2008 2:06:20 PM PDT
The two-story, 114,000 square foot Convention Center is host to a number of business meetings and downtown events. While managers here are making sure their customers stay cool, they're also doing their part in conserving energy.Wally Roeben monitors the temperature of each room in the Visalia Convention Center. Roeben says, "When we don't have clients in those rooms we turn off air conditioning. We've raised our temperatures in our lobbies and common areas."

On the center's computer system, rooms marked in red are not in use and stay at a temperature in the high 70s to low 80s. Rooms marked in green are being used and usually stay at 75-degrees. Roeben also turns off the lights in every empty room. He says these energy-saving measures can cut up to $100,000 off their yearly energy bill. Roeben says, "We also have a thermal storage system here in the Convention Center that builds ice in the middle of the night when energy rates are low and is plentiful."

During the day, the ice stocked up in large metal boxes cools the building and uses less electricity. The city of Visalia is also working to keep street crews cool. City Public Works Director Andrew Benelli says, "The heat is very hard on all crews but particularly the crews that work right in the sun all day."

The city gives employees plenty of water, Gatorade and straw hats: vital tools for these workers at Highway 198 and Akers who are laying asphalt that can reach more than 300-degrees.

City worker Robert Ordonez says, "Last year, two guys overheated and they laid down and took a nap for five minutes and then took a break." Benelli says, "Streets and parks are pretty busy this time of year. They get the most work done in this time of year because they don't have the rains to deal with."
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