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EMA headquarters goes green

Renovations aimed at lowering the Alabama Emergency Management Agency’s energy cost will eventually pay for themselves.

The AEMA’s headquarters on U.S. 31 in south Clanton is working to reduce its energy costs by 40 percent come New Year’s Day 2010, according to facility engineer Terri DaVaughn.

The agency is changing every light fixture with more energy efficient bulbs, replacing faucets and commodes to save water, and overhauling the building’s heating and cooling system. Workers expect to finish the project by Dec. 22.

“We’re excited any time we save the taxpayers’ money —that’s good for everyone,” said Lauree Ashcom, public information officer.

The original EMA building was constructed in 1988 as the state’s civil defense headquarters. An annex was added in 2007.

The first facility was built to withstand tornadoes, even the threat of nuclear war during the Cold War. However, energy savings wasn’t a top priority back then.

AEMA took on the initiative to comply with the 20-percent reduction in energy consumption mandated by Gov. Bob Riley.

TAC by Schneider Electric, the company handling most of the renovations, guarantees that the headquarters will reduce utility costs by $37,000 annually when the project is completed.

The facility is headquarters for emergency response in Alabama, and all FEMA and state disaster relief is managed from this facility.