HRCA goes green with savings

Association likes what it sees from energy audit

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In an effort to become more energy-efficient and save money, the Highlands Ranch Community Association has teamed with the Colorado Energy Office as part of a statewide pilot program that could help the organization for years to come.

Nine months after the state of Colorado approved a $25,000 grant for the HRCA to undergo an energy audit, the association’s board of directors voted 4-0 Sept. 17 to partner with the award-winning McKinstry energy company to move forward with a program guaranteed to save the association $163,000 annually for 10 years.

The savings don’t stop there, however.

There is an estimated $22,000 in operating costs to be saved each year, plus $131,000 in year-one energy rebates from Xcel Energy and an immediate savings of $404,000 on replacing major worn-out equipment by going through McKinstry, which is designing tailored, energy-efficient equipment to meet the HRCA’s needs.

HRCA CEO Jerry Flannery introduced the idea to the delegate body in January, outlining a plan that would allow the organization to avoid dipping into its reserve fund for major expenditures such as PoolPaks and boilers, but instead finance 10 years’ worth of savings to pay for all future fixes. Flannery previously worked with McKinstry when he was employed as city manager for Commerce City.

Following the almost-unanimous vote of approval by the delegate body — only district delegates Sharyn Landis and Elaine Brown voted against it — all but six districts fully supported funding the project by borrowing $1.5 million from the Open Space Conservation Area fund as well as using $600,000 out of the reserve fund.

The money in the reserve fund was being saved for major repairs in 2013 already, while the delegate body discussed the potential contract with McKinstry and McKinstry simultaneously conducted its nearly six-month energy audit, which entailed looking at all of the recreation center equipment in Highlands Ranch. 

The OSCA fund, which is earmarked for improvements in the backcountry wilderness area, will be refunded at a minimum of $163,000 per year over a period not to exceed 10 years. Payments to the fund will cover interest that would have otherwise accrued.

“Every penny of the OSCA fund will be spent on the backcountry,” assured HRCA board member Jeff Suntken, who also serves on the HRCA finance committee.

“From an environmental standpoint we have been seen as a national leader for many years, and this definitely establishes us as a leader in sustainability,” said HRCA Operations and Programs Manager Ken Joseph. “There are very few community associations in the United States that have taken these kinds of steps.”

The HRCA is the first nonprofit organization that has taken part in the Colorado Energy Office’s pilot program. The program has helped save more than $350 million in upgrade costs for public entities in Colorado over the past four years.