Project cuts energy costs

Published 7:16 pm Friday, February 24, 2012

A simple project designed and implemented by the City of Washington, in conjunction with the Energy Division of North Carolina Department of Commerce, has resulted in dramatic energy savings and will assist with job creation at a city-owned manufacturing facility occupied by Impressions Marketing Group, LLC.

In 2009, Impressions Marketing Group, which has leased the city-owned facility since 2001, entered into lease renewal negotiations with the city. As part of the negotiations, company executives encouraged the city to improve the building, which once housed a Hamilton Beach plant.

In 2010, after several months of negotiations, and with the help of a $259,979 grant from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act’s Energy Efficiency in Government Buildings program, the group executed a five-year lease with an option for renewal. Mayor Archie Jennings said, “The grant award simultaneously targets the relationship between economic development and environmental sustainability, nourishes a unique public-private partnership and sustains an imperative local employer, key project goals.”

The lighting retrofit and heating improvement project combined to achieve an estimated $108,220 in energy savings across 1,400 light fixtures and 400,000 square feet of building. The International Energy Agency estimates that similar energy-efficiency initiatives in buildings, industrial processes and transportation could reduce the world’s energy needs by a third in 2050. There are more than 32,000 such manufacturing facilities in the United States alone.

The lighting improvements will generate an estimated energy-impact savings of 736-megawatt hours annually, enough to power 64 homes for one month. The gas-heating improvements will save an estimated 40,000 therms annually, enough to power 57 homes for a month. Impressions’ early energy-savings data, coupled with the slow-but-steady upswing in its business, will allow it to increase its employment base by an estimated 16.48 percent by 2012 (it is currently hiring).

These numbers, representing job creation and energy savings, are an example of community economic development, action taken locally by a municipality to provide economic opportunities to improve working conditions in a sustainable way. The City of Washington’s efficiency project demonstrates a healthy public-private partnership benefiting the community, the environment and the local economy, a triple bottom line benefit.

Impressions is a high-quality, store-fixture supplier. Locally, it produces premium fixtures and décor graphics for well-known retailers. It employs 136 people.

For more information about its current employment opportunities, contact 252-975-0444.