Seniors check out the new energy-efficient fitness facility at the Rockville Senior Center. | Photo courtesy of Chris Galm, Energy Department.

Using money from a Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant, the Greater Randolph Senior Center installed a 7-kW Solar PV system to reduce energy consumption. | Photo courtesy of Bexar County, Texas.

As winter settles upon us, senior citizens in Converse, Texas, and Rockville, Maryland, can be thankful for renovated senior centers that are symbols of community pride and improve the quality of life. The Greater Randolph Senior Center and Rockville Senior Center received energy efficiency enhancements and retrofits that will help keep seniors warm in the coming months thanks to funding from the Energy Department’s Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) Program.

Located in Bexar County, Texas, the Greater Randolph Senior Center serves the county’s 13 small communities, targeting a total population of 200,000. After the senior center made energy upgrades with money from its U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development entitlement grant, EECBG-award-recipient Bexar County used a portion of its grant to conduct an energy audit. The audit identified additional energy-saving opportunities, and the county used $65,739 to install energy-efficient fluorescent lights and ballasts, a five-ton dual HVAC system and an on-demand energy-saving water heater at the facility. Additionally, the senior center installed a 7-kW solar photovoltaic system to reduce energy consumption. Since the completion of the retrofit two years ago, Greater Randolph Senior Center consistently reports energy savings of more than 45 percent. The money saved through reduced monthly energy costs can now be redirected to provide additional services and programs for the broader community.

Across the country in Rockville, Maryland, the city converted a former 1960s-era elementary school into a dramatically expanded Rockville Senior Center -- the area’s main senior center with approximately 12,700 visits each year. Rockville used $374,000 in EECBG funds to make energy efficiency improvements as part of a weatherization project. The senior center installed high-efficiency tinted windows with a low-emittance (low-E) coating and a reflective roofing system with upgraded roof insulation to further reduce heat gains. In total, the energy-saving features are projected to reduce the facility’s energy use by 20 percent.

Visitors to the Greater Randolph Senior Center and Rockville Senior Center now experience a more comfortable environment. The retrofits and efficiency improvements add to the quality of life for senior citizens in both communities, allowing them to stay healthy, remain active and keep warm this winter.