Fairgrounds project moves closer to green

Fairgrounds project moves closer to green
Frederick Schenk speaks to the other members of the Del Mar Fairgrounds board of directors during a Tuesday, Aug. 14 meeting. Photo by Shana Thompson

DEL MAR — With no out-of-pocket costs and guaranteed annual savings of at least $233,000, the 22nd District Agricultural Association board of directors at the Aug. 14 meeting authorized a $3.8 million loan to pay for a project that will reduce energy and water consumption at the Del Mar Fairgrounds.

The move will also help the state-owned facility comply with a 2012 executive order from Gov. Jerry Brown that requires state agencies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 20 percent by 2020.

“This falls in the slam-dunk category,” Director Russ Penniman said. “Environmentally, it’s the right thing to do.”

After the energy-efficient project was proposed in 2014, Willdan Energy Solutions conducted, at no cost to the fairgrounds, a facility-wide, room-by-room light-fixture count, light-level measurement survey, utility costs assessment and American Society of Heating and Air Conditioning Engineers Level II audit.

CEG Solutions was then hired to conduct an investment audit for an energy-savings performance contract for Del Mar and two other state fairgrounds.

That analysis indicated that implementing energy efficient measures would help the Fairs and Expositions Division of the California Department of Food and Agriculture make “considerable progress” toward reducing operational expenses and complying with state mandates, according to the staff report. 

New low-flow restroom equipment and LED lighting, including 178 toilets and 6,500 fixtures, and kitchen exhaust fans with automated controls will be added. Window film will be installed in the grandstand and administrative offices.

Since peak energy consumption is during the San Diego County Fair, vendors will be educated and encouraged to make adjustments, such as using LED lighting.

Shawn Stancill, from CEG, said some of the changes have already been implemented, for an approximate savings of more than $100,000.

He said existing exhaust fans are near the end of their useful life and are not efficient because they must be turned on and off manually.

The project is expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 803 tons and save more than 1 million kilowatt hours of electricity and 2.9 million gallons of potable water.

The loan is for 23 years at 2.5 percent interest and can be prepaid without penalty.

It is estimated the measures will save the fairgrounds $258,268 a year, but if that amount is not at least $233,823, CEG will pay the difference or fund the necessary changes to reach that number, Stancill said.

The monetary savings can be used to pay the annual loan payment amount of a little more than $200,000. There will be an estimated $190,000 in savings before the annual payments begin.

“The project is turnkey,” Stancill said. “It will decrease utility costs and improve existing infrastructure. If we don’t obtain the savings, it’s up to us to rectify that by implementing more measures at our cost of pay the difference.

“It’s a great program and I think it’s going to be a great program for the fairgrounds,” he added. “It’s good for the environment and good for Del Mar’s bottom line.”

He said it will also help the fairgrounds fit into the sustainable communities it is surrounded by.

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