La Fortaleza going ‘green’ through $1M investment

Written by  //  August 2, 2011  //  Environment  //  No comments

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Energy Affairs Administration Executive Director Luis Bernal-Jiménez

The hemisphere’s oldest operating governor’s mansion, La Fortaleza, will be going “green” after a $1 million investment to switch out energy-chugging lighting systems and air conditioning units for more efficient ones, government officials said Monday.

The green energy project is expected to reduce the historic building’s annual energy costs by 70 percent, or $300,000. Work has already begun and should be completed by March 2012. The retrofit is being funded through federal funding granted under the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant program, which allows for the conversion of local historic building into energy-efficient facilities.

“Today, the historic mansion is on its way to becoming a model for energy conservation for all Puerto Ricans. The historic value of La Fortaleza and the need for energy-efficient government buildings make this project greatly beneficial,” said Energy Affairs Administration Executive Director Luis Bernal-Jiménez.

“This project…joins another we’re developing at the State Department and Cuartel de Ballajá,” he said, referring to the other historic structures also located in Old San Juan.

The State Department’s conversion was announced in October 2010, when government officials said more than $500,000 in federal funding would be spent to replace outdated lighting systems, air conditioning units and other related equipment. Meanwhile, the Cuartel de Ballajá project calls for installing solar panels so that it can produce some of its own energy — an initiative that earned President Barack Obama’s praise during his fleeting visit to the island in June.

“We’re transforming Puerto Rico by developing energy projects in small and mid-sized businesses, homes, educational institutions, nonprofit organizations, municipalities and now we’re getting started with government buildings that are part of our historic heritage and that we must transform and care for,” he said.

The expected savings after the project at La Fortaleza is completed is estimated at more than 1.2 million kilowatt-hours annually. The investment should be recovered in about three years, Bernal said. The Infrastructure Financing Authority will be responsible for overseeing the conversion work.

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