Deputy Director – Green Communities Division Department of Energy Resources
Five hundred children in grades 6, 7, and 8 attend the Belmonte Middle School in Saugus – a 1964-vintage building which, up until now, had been relying on its inefficient, over-sized original oil heating system, which is 45 years old. For several years, this aged system gave rise to concerns about unhealthy air quality voiced by staff members, parents and residents of the town.
Now the students and community can breathe easy. With the help of a stimulus-funded Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) of $150,000, the two oil-fired boilers that operated at 70 percent efficiency have been replaced with four natural gas fired boilers that will operate at 94 percent efficiency. The new system will fire up the heat in stages so that only the amount of heat actually needed is provided at any given time. The new highly efficient system will provide savings in energy consumption that will lead to long-term cost savings for the school. In addition, the new system will greatly reduce the school’s global warming impact as the emissions from natural gas are one-third less than those from heating oil. In addition, the project provided 21 jobs throughout the five-month construction period.
The Saugus project is one of the first to be completed under the Green Communities Division’s EECBG grant program. On February 17, 2010, 94 municipalities received awards of up to $150,000 for energy efficiency or solar projects. Massachusetts’ EECBG program has been nation-leading on most milestones set out by the federal government, including award of grants, disbursement of funds, and completion of projects. Massachusetts EECBG programs were also the first to work with the federal government to streamline and expedite environmental and historical building reviews, paving the way for other states to follow suit.
Other Massachusetts EECBG municipal awardees that have completed projects include: solar in Dennis, Norton, Amesbury, Rockland, Seekonk, Acushnet, Truro, Wellfleet, and Ipswich, and another school heating system in Gardner. Stimulus-funded energy projects from this and other grant programs can be seen on the DOER homepage.