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Energy efficiency report shocks Largo

LARGO — After receiving a federal grant last year to examine the energy efficiency of its public buildings, the city hired a private firm to inspect its City Hall and Police Department.

The results are in, and the comprehensive report reveals that the structures, which were built in the 1970s, are quite leaky — both in terms of keeping air conditioning bills down, and in some cases, interior spaces separated from the elements.

The engineering firm Long and Associates of Tampa says it could be quite expensive to fix the problems at the municipal complex at 201 Highland Ave.: more than $7.8 million to bring City Hall up to current standards, compared with about $11.8 million to build a new City Hall.

The police headquarters would cost about $2 million to bring up to current building code.

The engineering firm reported of both structures: "Significant work is needed to bring this building into conformance with current Florida Building Code requirements for wind load resistance and minimum energy efficiency standards."

The report also noted that some walls of both buildings offered "almost no thermal insulation" and that "water intrusion due to roof leaks is an ongoing problem" at the Police Department.

While the report paints a rather bleak picture of both structures, especially City Hall's condition, officials have few complaints about the building's ability to serve its purpose as office space for the city staff and meeting rooms for commissioners.

Mayor Patricia Gerard said she told City Manager Norton "Mac" Craig she wanted to take a closer look at the report.

"We decided to take a look at that to see what inexpensive things we could do," she said.

Gerard said she hoped the report would outline simple, low-cost ways for the city to conserve on utility bills. The costly and broad recommendations by the report came as a surprise.

She said that when she speaks to the city staff about the report in more detail, she would see if some parts of the recommendations would be more cost-effective than others — and that at present, the city has no plans to necessarily follow any of the suggestions.

"I think we could pick and choose what's really important," she said. "I'd like our staff to give us some more recommendations."

The city bought the Highland Avenue property, formerly the Aegon office complex, for $4.6 million in August 1996 and completed $7.9 million in renovations to the building in 2000.

Dominick Tao can be reached at dtao@sptimes.com or (727) 580-2951.

Energy efficiency report shocks Largo 11/09/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 9, 2010 5:12pm]
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