Director, Energy Efficiency Division, Department of Energy Resources
I had a great swing through Western Mass last week. I got invited by the Berkshire Chamber of Commerce to speak at their Good News Breakfast. This was a top notch event. They were honoring some great organizations. I talked about our energy efficiency programs, the new Green Communities Division, and our work to implement energy related provisions of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. All in 20 minutes! (Okay, maybe I took 25.)
I took advantage of the opportunity to see some of the efficiency work that's underway in Western Mass. Thanks to Laura Dubester and Alan Silverstein at the Center for Ecological Technology (CET), for setting up some great visits. Check out CET's work – they got started in energy efficiency work in the late 70s and really know their stuff. I got to see their two offices in Pittsfield (one brand new, they just expanded), their new office in Florence (got too big for the old office in downtown Northampton, so they moved into a bigger one), their air sealing classroom in an old Moose Lodge in Northampton (what a spot – pictures to come), and their ReStore in Springfield. More on that later.
I sort of sprung a visit on Berkshire Community College to check out some of their workforce development efforts that help support the growing green economy and give people the skills that we hope will set them up for career success. Many thanks to President Raverta and his team – thanks for fitting me into your morning schedule! They have nearly completed two rounds of classroom training on clean energy subjects and skills, in part funded by a Pathways Out of Poverty grant from the Mass Clean Energy Center - one of the nation's first such programs.
After that I checked out the ReStore in Springfield. Check out their mission: Reuse valuable materials; make home improvement affordable for more people; create local jobs; and provide job training. Pretty great. They've got lots of quality surplus and used building materials in stock – think of all the energy consumption avoided by reusing all those building materials (it takes lots of energy to make new stuff). They recently competed for and won one of DOER's High Performance Buildings Grants, funded by the ARRA, which is helping them move to a huge new location, just down the street, and retrofit their new building to make it use a whole lot less energy. Above is a picture of John Majercak, the mastermind behind the whole thing, out front of their new building. They're expecting to close in May and start renovation soon after. Plans look great – extra insulation, super-efficient heating systems, displays for the 30,000 customers that visit and lots more; we'll try to keep you posted.