Central Delaware
Better Buildings Challenge helps reduce state's energy use
This high-efficiency closed-loop cooling tower on the Tatnall Building in Dover replaced an older model with a heat exchanger system that was nearing the end of its useful life. The replacement tower conserves energy and better serves the building’s cooling needs, following the Better Building Challenge model. (Submitted photo/Delaware Office of Management and Budget

DOVER — After one year of participating in the federal government’s public-private partnership program, the Better Buildings Challenge, Delaware reduced has its energy use by 5 percent — twice as much as the public-private partner average.

“We are looking ahead of the game,” said Rachel Yocum, state liason for the Better Buildings Challenge.

The challenge falls under the Better Buildings initiative, a program designed to help commercial and industrial sectors to reduce energy intensity by 20 percent in 2020.

The voluntary program is still gaining steam, nearly two years after President Barrack Obama launched the initiative in December 2011.

“There are states that are coming online even now,” said Ms. Yocum.

Participating states, as well as organizations such as nonprofits and universities, are recognized based on their public energy-use data and their specific showcase projects.

More than 110 organizations representing more than 2 billion square feet of space have joined the Better Buildings Challenge and publicize their showcase projects that demonstrate significant energy savings.
Delaware’s showcase project is the Carvel State Office Building in Wilmington, which houses state and agency offices.

Carvel is one of the 60-plus state buildings undergoing energy conservation construction, including the Tatnall Building in Dover, Howard R. Young Correctional Institute in Wilmington, New Castle County Courthouse in Wilmington and Sussex County Division of Motor Vehicles in Georgetown.

Carvel, a 302,250- square-foot facility, has implemented 12 energy conservation measures ranging from water and lighting improvements to heating, ventilation and air conditioning efficiencies.

All improvements are funded on the state level — with the federal government providing technical support, Ms. Yocum said.

The state funding for the improvements made at Carvel is $5,960,000.

Dennis Groom, director of the Division of Facilities Management for the, state said that lighting is one of the largest efficiency initiatives his team undertakes when revamping a building.

For example, using a light harvesting system cuts back on perimeter and excess lighting.

“There are a lot of components of building systems that will increase their efficiency,” Mr. Groom said.

For more information on Delaware’s activities and accomplishments in the Better Buildings Challenge, visit

Staff writer Jen Rini can be reached at 741-8250 or
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