Council agrees to install energy-efficient roof at City Hall

Council agrees to install energy-efficient roof at City Hall
As part of an ongoing plan to make city facilities more energy-efficient, the city will replace the aging and deteriorating roof of City Hall with a cool roof, which could reduce the roof surface temperature by up to 100 degrees. Photo by Bianca Kaplanek

SOLANA BEACH — Like the Del Mar Race Track to the south, Solana Beach City Hall is about to become as cool as ever. 

Council members agreed at the April 11 meeting to install a cool roof on the building as part of an ongoing plan to make city facilities more energy-efficient.

Unlike conventional roofs, cool roofs stay at or near ambient temperatures because the materials used provide a higher solar reflectance and increased thermal emittance.

The city previously entered into a contract with Chevron Energy Solutions to develop an energy package that would pay for itself through energy and cost savings.

In February, as part of that plan, council members authorized the retrofit of all city-owned streetlights and the replacement of interior and exterior lighting fixtures at City Hall, the marine safety building, the fire station and La Colonia Community Center.

According to the February staff report, the first priority at City Hall was to replace the “existing aging and inefficient” heating, ventilation and air conditioning system, which was identified as the building’s highest energy consumer.

Other recommended City Hall upgrades included replacing rooftop ductwork and the roof, which is deteriorating and leaks, because replacing only the HVAC units would not optimize the energy efficiency of the building. Installing new HVAC units and the roof at the same time would also maximize cost savings, according to the staff report.

Council members authorized new HVAC units in February, but not the other rooftop upgrades, although parts of the roof would have to be repaired during the HVAC replacement. Council directed staff to further research the roofing costs.

A standard new roof is about $140,000. A cool roof, which could reduce the roof surface temperature by up to 100 degrees, is estimated to be $185,000.

The cost for upgrades approved in February without the new roof is $1.2 million. After rebates and a buy-down, the city would finance approximately $635,000 and be cash-flow positive in three years. The estimated savings is $612,000 in 20 years.

With the cool roof the total project cost is $1.4 million. The city will finance approximately $824,000 and be cash-flow positive in 10 years. The savings would be about $370,000 in 20 years.

Staff identified $70,000 in a public facilities fund that could have been used as a buy-down, but council members agreed the difference in savings over 20 years wasn’t significant enough to use justify using that money on this project.

Although council approved the plan unanimously, Councilman Tom Campbell was leery about actually achieving the energy-saving estimates.

“That is a concern,” said Campbell, who voted against the package approved in February. “I agree that we need to do something. We definitely need to put a roof on here.

“But if we go for this we need to understand that this may not pencil out the way we think it’s going to pencil out,” he said. “This is a leap of faith.”

City Manager David Ott agreed it is somewhat of a leap of faith, but only according to the current numbers. The energy-savings estimates are based on the initial 12 months.

“There’s a guarantee for the first year,” he said.

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