LOUISVILLE — More than 200 Louisville buildings are shedding kilowatts.
Businesses and government agencies are taking part in Louisville's first "Kilowatt Crackdown," an 18-month energy-efficiency challenge that began last year and ends in December with the goal of saving money and helping the environment.
The efforts are being tracked using tools from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
"If you can reduce energy consumption in your building, you are going to save in the operating expenses of your company," said Chris Cieminski, general manager of the 35-story Aegon Center and chairman of the Louisville Energy Alliance, the non-profit group overseeing the Kilowatt Crackdown. "Long term, if we reduce our overall consumption, it means LG&E (Louisville Gas & Electric) doesn't have to build another power plant."
Louisville joins Portland, Ore., and Seattle — two cities noted for their environmental initiatives — in offering the challenge through the EPA's Energy Star program.
This all began two years ago, when Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson approached business leaders about the initiative and put them in touch with the EPA. Participants in the Kilowatt Crackdown signed up last year and have agreed to track their energy use and document their conservation measures.
Winners will be announced in 2010. Cieminski said the alliance intends to offer another challenge that year.
The Aegon Center — which already has been certified as an Energy Star building, meaning it meets certain federal standards for energy efficiency — has recently installed several new types of energy-efficient lighting, including some in its elevators.
Several participants in the challenge say they are taking it seriously.
"We are absolutely going to give it our best," said David Noltemeyer, a facilities and real-estate manager for nearby Humana, which entered three of its Louisville buildings in the challenge.
As one of its initiatives, Humana upgraded the elevators in its Waterside Building so that the motors shut down when not in a high-traffic period, Noltemeyer said.
Kroger entered 10 of its grocery stores in the competition. Kroger initiatives include energy audits in which crews check the stores at night to ensure that cooler doors are closed, computer screens are off and other equipment is operating efficiently.
Kroger also is trying out energy-sipping LED lighting in some refrigerated and frozen-food cases.
Jefferson County Public Schools entered dozens of buildings, the most of any organization, in an effort to save on its $18 million annual utility bill.
Several facilities are getting new heating and air conditioning, and all will be subject to improved energy management, said Mike Mulheirn, director of facilities for the district.
"If we could reduce our energy by 3 percent, that would save us half a million bucks," he said.