MA Ramps Up Projects to Save $22M in Energy at State Buildings

by | Mar 9, 2010

NSCC-LynnCampusThe state of Massachusetts is offering a new financing plan that allows the Commonwealth to fund energy efficient and renewable energy projects at dozens of state buildings, aimed at saving millions of dollars in energy costs annually, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and supporting the governor’s clean energy goals, reports Cape Cod Today. Projects will be financed by state-backed general obligation bonds, which will be paid off through energy savings.

The Commonwealth Clean Energy Investment Program is expected to streamline financing for potentially 32 projects that could yield the state $22 million in annual energy cost savings, according to a press release.

Completion of state energy projects is also expected to help Massachusetts meet its target goal of reducing overall energy consumption at state-owned buildings by 20 percent and greenhouse gas emissions resulting from state government operations by 25 percent by 2012.

One of the first projects under the Commonwealth Clean Energy Investment Program, which is part of the Commonwealth Energy Solutions initiative, is a $3.6 million energy-efficiency project at the North Shore Community College (NSCC) campuses in Danvers and Lynn, reports NSCC.

The NSCC upgrade includes the installation of solar panels, a lighting retrofit, energy management systems, as well as new chillers, boilers and rooftop heating, ventilation and air-conditioning units. Other measures include the addition of variable frequency drive motors, water conservation measures, insulation, and the conversion of heating from electric to natural gas. The upgrades, which are scheduled to start in April, are expected to save the college and state $400,000 annually, cutting the college’s energy use by up to 32 percent.

By financing the project with state bonds, Massachusetts is expected to reduce its interest payments by more than $800,000 over the life of the project.

The state is also building the commonwealth’s first “net zero” energy building at the NSCC campus. The $32 million, 58,700-square-foot Health Professions and Student Services building is expected to save as much energy as it uses through geothermal heating and cooling, solar panels, and smart lighting controls when it opens in September 2011.

Other state projects include the installation of two 1.65-megawatt wind turbines each at the Department of Correction’s Gardner facility and at Mt. Wachusett Community College, and energy-efficiency projects at Massasoit Community College, UMass Dartmouth, 17 Trial Court buildings located in Bristol, Plymouth and Suffolk Counties, and the headquarters and training academy of the Massachusetts State Police.

The state also has dozens of other energy efficiency and renewable energy projects at state facilities that could be eligible for the new financing program.

The Commonwealth Energy Solutions is designed to yield an estimated $6 million in savings in its first year.

Another Northeast state also has efforts in place to make its buildings more  energy efficient. New York state lawmakers passed a green building construction bill last year that requires that state-owned buildings be developed or renovated in accordance with sustainability practices. The State Green Building Construction Act goes into effect in mid-2010.

In addition, New York’s 45×15 initiative set a goal for the state to meet 45 percent of its electricity needs through improved energy efficiency and renewable sources by the year 2015.

On the other side of the country, California claims the most stringent, environmentally-friendly building code in the United States that will apply to new commercial buildings, hospitals, schools, shopping malls and homes. It will take effect in January 2011.

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