By Lisa Capobianco
The Town Council recently voted unanimously to approve an energy savings project that would bring equipment upgrades to both town and school buildings.
Council members voted during a recent meeting to approve a performance contract with Noresco to move forward with the $13 million project that would bring a total of $939,612 in energy savings the first year. The total payback would take 14 years. The Council also received a 2.9 percent loan from Bank of America.
Noresco, which is part of United Technologies Corporation, has been working with the town since last summer, and performed an investment grade audit in both town and school buildings, looking at needed improvements.
Town Manager Garry Brumback said the project serves as an opportunity to achieve capital improvements while taking the burden off taxpayers through energy savings.
During the contract, Southington will save both utility and maintenance costs during the contract by replacing outdated equipment and systems with new ones that consume less energy and fuel. The town can use the guaranteed savings from the new systems to pay for their installation during the contract term. Brumback said most of the equipment has a life expectancy that goes beyond the contract term, and the new equipment will continue to bring savings. Brumback said after the contract ends, Southington will accrue those savings.
John Kauppinen, the senior account executive of Noresco, said the company has been conducting these kinds of projects in 7,000 buildings statewide for over 25 years, stating that energy related improvements are supported by guaranteed cost savings.
“We’ve been doing this type of work where we go in, and develop these types of projects to public institutions and guarantee that the savings are going to pay for costs of upgrades over a period of time,” said Kauppinen during the meeting. “We’re doing a whole range of comprehensive measures throughout a variety of buildings in the schools as well as the town as well as converting the street lights to LED lighting, which is a more efficient source.”
Keith Hanlon of Noresco presented an overview of energy conservation measures in both town and school buildings. The schools, which make up 80 percent of the overall improvements, will receive upgrades in the heating and cooling system, lighting and controls, energy management system and computer management software among others.
“We’re covering every school building in town,” Hanlon told the Council.
Hanlon added that the project will also focus on improving the heating and cooling system at Southington High School, which presents a number of existing challenges. For instance, the rooftop heating equipment is at the end of its useful life, and currently there is no air conditioning in the west gym, reported Hanlon during the presentation. Hanlon said recommended improvements include new rooftop heating and cooling equipment, converting technical education wing to rooftop equipment, and converting electrical heaters to direct fired natural gas and hot water.
He added that improvements will also be made in the high school’s energy management system.
“Another opportunity at the high school would be the energy management system—this is the system that controls the temperature in the building, controls the temperature at night and during the day,” Hanlon said during the meeting.
In the town buildings, energy conservation measures will focus on implementing LED street lights as well as improvements in the heating and cooling equipment, which are outdated and inefficient, reported Hanlon.
Hanlon said other recommended improvements include switching from oil heat to natural gas heat the police station and the Southington Historical Society as well as new heating and cooling equipment at Town Hall, the highway department, Fire Station #1, and new heating equipment at Southington Community Services as well as the Barnes Museum.
“We are taking energy conservation very seriously here in town, and this is the major component of it,” added Town Council Chairman Mike Riccio during the meeting.
The project will start this summer, according to Brumback.