Discovering “Green Gold” in Indianapolis

Indianapolis, like cities across the nation, faces the challenge of reducing resource use and saving taxpayer dollars. The retrofit of the Indianapolis City-County Building provided the spark for the mayor and city staff to begin the process of comprehensively addressing energy use across the entire Indianapolis municipal building portfolio. The profitable 46 percent reduction in energy usage demonstrated the viability of achieving deep energy savings and the effectiveness of an integrated sustainability strategy.

Last week, Indianapolis announced the building earned a prestigious Environmental Protection Agency’s ENERGY STAR® rating. To qualify for the ENERGY STAR®, the facility must be more energy efficient than at least 75 percent of similar buildings nationwide. Energy-efficiency retrofits completed over the past year on the 50-year-old, 731,000-square-foot building reduced costs for taxpayers and helped qualify it for the recognition, making it a model for green building in Indianapolis.

“Receiving the ENERGY STAR recognition emphasizes the savings taxpayers are receiving from these retrofits annually in addition to the reduction of our environmental footprint,” said Mayor Greg Ballard in a press release. “The city is leading by example in demonstrating to local businesses the benefits of energy efficiency upgrades.”

One of the key efficiency measures was discovered during an early retrofit workshop led by Rocky Mountain Institute. The workshop participants stumbled upon a gold mine of efficiency opportunity in that the city had been pumping over 225 gallons per minute of groundwater from the lower parking deck due to a high water table. This constant water flow, which had been pumped since the building was constructed in 1962, offered an opportunity to serve as a heat exchanger to lower the costs of heating and cooling the building.

Visit the RetroFit Depot to learn more about this and other deep retrofit projects.

Highlighted Resources

Project Case Study: Indianapolis City-County Building 

Retrofit Depot

Retrofit Depot: Download the Guides


2012 Portfolio Energy RetroFit Challenge