New Hanover County

At a Glance


Government/Public Administration

Project Type

Commercial Energy Efficiency




Wilmington, NC


Katherine Binion assessed the energy efficiency of county buildings, and worked to push the country towards its sustainability goals without compromising existing aesthetic and functional standards.


Katherine Binion spent her summer in New Hanover County, North Carolina, which is known for its beaches on the state's southeast coast. In 2006, the county's Property Management Department created Saving Utilities to Reduce Our Footprint (SURF), a sustainable energy plan for the county that prioritized energy efficiency projects. Binion was brought in to assist New Hanover County in following this plan.


During 10 weeks, Binion focused on energy efficiency assessments of five county buildings, including libraries and courthouses. The historic courthouse in Wilmington, the county seat, received lighting upgrades in 2007, replacing over 300 incandescent chandelier bulbs with LEDs. However, they were replaced again with the original bulbs due to complaints about the bluish color of LEDs. With LED technology advances, Binion was able to devise a lighting solution that fit the aesthetic requirements of the historic space: two-watt LEDs with dimming capabilities. The project could save the county over $15,000 in annual energy and maintenance costs. Binion’s other projects involved temperature setbacks and replacement of magnetic ballasts with electronic ballasts.

Potential Impact

In total, if Binion’s proposed projects are implemented, New Hanover county could save over $100,000 in annual energy costs in five buildings, reduce electricity consumption by 1.1 million kWh, and cut carbon emissions by 655 metric tons per year.

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