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City will see savings within five years on improvements

Date: 8/10/2010

Aug. 9, 2010

By G. Michael Dobbs

Managing Editor

SPRINGFIELD -- Mayor Domenic Sarno said Aug. 3 the city is "going after every dime" to upgrade its buildings and released a list of projects designed to be in compliance with a mandate to reduce the city's energy consumption by 20 percent by the end of 2012.

Joseph Forrest, the facility engineer for the Department of Parks, Buildings and Recreation Management (DPBRM), said that since 2007 the city has reduced its consumption "better than 12 percent."

The $2.9 million in projects has been paid for by a combination of city, state and federal funding, Patrick Sullivan, the executive director of DPBRM, explained.

Sarno explained, "Due to budget restraints, [these improvements] have been neglected for many, many years."

Forrest said the projects were identified through a project with Renaissance School students who conducted energy audits in the city's buildings. Their task was to find improvements that would have a return of investment within five years.

Sullivan said by adopting energy conservation measures and switching from oil to natural gas, the cost of energy has been reduced as well as the amount of oil used.

Forrest said natural gas is less expensive than oil and he has "locked in" a price for the city for the next two years.

The energy-saving projects include the installation of energy management systems in the following schools: Duggan, Freedman, Kennedy, Lynch, Brunton, Dorman, Glenwood, Talmadge and Zanetti. Forrest explained this system allows him to set schedules from his laptop computer for the heating and cooling of the buildings that is more efficient.

New boilers were installed in the Lynch and Freedman schools as well as in the Indian Orchard Fire Station, the Fire Repair Building, the Sixteen Acres Fire Station, the Fire Alarm Building, the South End Community Center and the First Church.

Forrest said although the average efficiency rate for boilers in city buildings is between 70 and 80 percent, the new boilers will use fuel at rates over 90 percent, some as high as 96 percent.

Also installed in many of the schools were "vending machine misers," which Forrest said was a motion sensor that controls the condenser of the machine. When the machine is not used, such as overnight, the "miser" goes into a standby mode and the condenser runs less without damaging the food or drink in the machine. Western Massachusetts Electric Company gives the city a rebate for the devices that allows "a quick payback," Forrest added.

All of the projects discussed last week will be completed by next summer, Forrest said.

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