Imagine paying more than $2.5 million for energy and seeing steam leaking from underground and having to wait two days to control your bedroom temperatures even as the outdoor temperatures run hot and cold. That’s what the Hogan Regional Center, a residential facility for developmentally disabled people located in Danvers and part of the Massachusetts Department of Developmental Services (DDS), had been dealing with for decades.
But, at a ribbon cutting ceremony at Hogan on a warm morning in early October, state officials, private contractors, and DDS staff celebrated the official completion of a comprehensive energy project that has drastically cut energy use, dramatically improved residents’ and staff comfort, and saved millions in energy costs in just one year. The energy project, funded through millions of dollars in state clean energy bonds (paid for out of savings), utility incentives, and a solar thermal grant, enabled the facility to replace a 100+ year old central power plant and 77 year-old oil-fired boilers with state-of-the-art natural gas boilers in each building. Other improvements included new internal windows, efficient lighting, lighting controls, a solar thermal array to pre-heat swimming pool water, a pool cover, advanced building management controls, and much more.
Even before the project has been in place for a full year, the results have been significant. From Fiscal Year 2012 to 2013, Hogan reduced its energy bill by some $2 million, a 77% decrease. Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions were also down 77% and the facility completely eliminated the use of 800,000 gallons of heavy oil and replaced it with cleaner burning natural gas.
At the same time, another DDS site – the Wrentham Developmental Center – also implemented a comprehensive energy retrofit project, installing . a large scale combined heat and power plant, which uses natural gas to generate electricity and waste heat, and a 500 kW solar PV array.
Together, the two project sites have reduced energy bills by more than $3.2 million, exceeding projections. The sites have eliminated 1.6 million gallons in heavy oil use and reduced GHG emissions by 58%, impressive results that are significantly higher than normally seen in these projects
As DDS Commissioner Elin Howe noted, this is “all about the residents,” pointing out that an improved energy system meant greater comfort for the more than 150 people housed at Hogan. No longer do residents have to put on winter jackets to walk through the drafty hallways on their way to the recreation center or open their windows in the dead of winter because their rooms are overheated.
As event participants – including Commissioner Howe, DCAMM Commissioner Carol Cornelison and DOER Commissioner Mark Sylvia – toured the facility, it was clear how large an impact this project has had. Everywhere you turned, you could see new lights, new windows, solar thermal panels, and you could feel the comfortable temperatures throughout the facility. Even hallways with natural daylight had only every third light on, a strategy the makes perfect sense but is so rarely implemented.
All in all, this was a great day to celebrate the Commonwealth’s efforts to bring its facilities into the 21st century, support the Governor’s energy goals, and demonstrate how state government can turn an aging, inefficient facility into a state-of-the-art showcase.