“The most important thing a city does is educate its children,” Westfield Mayor Daniel M. Knapik reminded us with a quote from one of his predecessors in the Westfield Mayor’s office, Rick Sullivan, now Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA).
At Westfield Vocational-Technical High School (WVTHS), the city’s commitment to its younger generation is visible − literally. After nearly four years of dedicated work and an almost 40 percent savings in natural gas in FY 2013, the hallways of the historic home of WVTHS now shine with a new, more efficient heating system that’s unobstructed to the eye. The gains came through the Massachusetts School Building Authority’s Green Repair Program and an Energy Management Services (EMS) project assisted by EEA’s Department of Energy Resources (DOER).
The massive $9 million project has sentimental value for Mayor Knapik, who attended high school in the building back when it housed Westfield High. At a ribbon-cutting event in June, the mayor, who also chairs the Westfield School Committee, spoke with nostalgia of turning the beacon, the highest point in Westfield, “back on with efficient LED lighting.”
The building also sports a new boiler system, a new roof, and new windows. Classrooms now have automatic carbon monoxide detectors that regulate the flow of fresh air depending on need, improving not only the energy efficiency of the building, but also the health of its occupants. The auditorium, a center of culture that benefits the whole city, is now refreshingly air-conditioned. It was in this auditorium that State Treasurer Steve Grossman cut the ceremonial ribbon, the finale to a festive celebration of the completion of the project. The event ended with a tour of the new energy-saving features.
The local effort of Westfield allowed the town to tap various resources to optimize benefits. An energy management services project reviewed by DOER and carried out by Siemens was implemented separate from, but in harmony with, a Massachusetts School Building Authority project − an approach that yielded great rewards for the city. Westfield has $40,000 in guaranteed annual energy cost savings as a result of the energy efficiency upgrades supplied by Siemens with the promise that, should the savings go unrealized, the company will pay the difference. These guaranteed savings will help repay the $4.7 million in bonds Westfield has issued to finance the EMS work. MSBA’s Green Repair Program invested $5.3 million.
If your community is interested in undertaking a project like Westfield’s, DOER has many resources to help you reach that goal. Like Westfield, you may have the potential to develop a successful EMS project (also known as an energy savings performance contract), depending on the energy efficiency opportunities within your facilities. For more information on Energy Management Services, and many more resources, visit www.mass.gov/energy/greencommunities.
Solar a “No-Go” on Your Roof? Share Through Community Solar posted on Jul 16
Harvard residents who wanted solar on their homes and were unable to get it due to shading, sloping, or structural barriers, found a solution by sharing the Harvard Solar Garden, an approximately 250 kW project, provides 41 residents and six small businesses with sustainable, clean energy. .
Summer’s Here: Shed Layers and Shed Loads posted on Jul 11
Electricity usage throughout New England reaches its peak during summer heat waves, causing our electricity bills to spike. During periods of high demand, electric utilities typically call on more expensive “peaking” plants to provide extra power. These costs are passed onto larger, non-residential consumers through demand charges on their monthly electricity bill. Municipal buildings can save a significant sum of money if they shut off portions of their electricity during these peak periods.
Massachusetts Rebates Supercharge Electric Vehicle Market posted on Jul 7
The MOR-EV initiative provides rebates of up to $2,500 for electric, fuel cell vehicles and plug-in vehicles with large batteries, and $1,500 for plug-in electric vehicles with smaller batteries. All Massachusetts residents are eligible to receive incentives on purchased and leased new electric vehicles until the rebate funds are gone.