Construction is well underway for an energy efficiency project in Sebastian County.

Sebastian County Building Engineer/Supervisor Mark Kilgore said construction for the project began Jan. 29. It is scheduled to be completed in July 20.

The list of the scope of work that is involved with the project is immense, Kilgore said.

"At this point of the project, we have completed what they call the building envelope process, which is doing ... the door seals and window seals and things like that ... where we're losing air and heat and that kind of thing," Kilgore said.

This process took place at all of the county's major buildings, Sebastian County Judge David Hudson said. Kilgore said that includes the Fort Smith and Greenwood courthouses, as well as the Sebastian County courts building and detention center.

The Sebastian County Quorum Court approved an emergency ordinance authorizing the county to complete an energy-efficiency project during its Nov. 21 regular meeting. It also approved an ordinance authorizing the funding of the Arkansas EPC Program for the county. EPC is a financing mechanism used to pay for energy efficiency improvements all at once, which are paid back through annual energy savings.

In a presentation to the Quorum Court during its Sept. 19 meeting, Michael Grabham, the south regional director of the Dallas-based company McKinstry, said some facility improvement measures would be applied to all county buildings while others would be applied for specific buildings.

Kilgore said on Thursday progress has been made on other aspects of the project.

"We are also doing window film applications at multiple sites, which give you a reflective, low-E value addition, which is also going to give us a big energy savings on the heating and air aspect of it because of that," Kilgore said.

This part of the project is 76 percent complete, Kilgore said, and will continue for an additional two to three weeks. 

Work on an energy improvement feature at the Sebastian County Adult Detention Center has also begun. It is a control system that runs the water systems.

"It's a smart system, and what it does is allows them to have control of the lavatories and the toilets and the showers, and things like that, where they can have control and limit the use of that, or prevent someone from standing in one of the restrooms and just flushing the toilet again and again," Kilgore said. "The system is smart enough that it would alert them to that, and shut it off, so that they couldn't abuse that and waste the water and waste the money of the taxpayers who pay for that."

This would also make it possible for the entire water system to be shut off at once if necessary.

HVAC work is also currently taking place, Kilgore said. The lighting crews that are going to do all the lighting upgrades in county buildings are waiting for equipment to arrive onsite.

"Other scopes and parts of the project have not even begun yet," Kilgore said.

In an article previously published in the Times Record, Hudson said the current boiler at the detention center was installed in 1994, and is running at the end of its useful life. It will be replaced.

Hudson said on Thursday the replacement is in process, but the county is waiting for the manufacturer to produce the equipment. Kilgore said the tentative scheduled installation date is March 26.

The project total is an amount exceeding $5 million, and the financing plan approved by the Quorum Court as part of the ordinance is over 15 years at 2.85 percent interest.