The boom in energy efficiency technology has been steadily progressing despite the world’s resistance to upgrading to a greener standard. It isn’t as easy as putting some solar panels on the roof or turning down the heat. Municipalities, especially, have been hard-pressed to “go green” in an effort to save taxpayer dollars that could be diverted to other things. For the Tri-Town, the age of the facilities is a big determining factor in how to update their energy systems. The other factor is money. While there are many municipal programs out there for towns to consider in order to get funding for such projects, the costs can still be high.
Then there is the case of Old Colony Regional Vocational Technical High School in Rochester. The school, which was built in the 1970s, recently underwent a renovation of the climate control and infrastructure equipment. The installation of a new roof-top heating and ventilation systems coupled with a high-efficiency boiler help maintain better control of the temperature of the building. The school also installed more energy-efficient lighting to reduce the use of electricity.
There is even a solar panel array on the roof, which directly generates some electricity for the building.
“The 3.3 kilowatt photovoltaic array is used primarily for educational purposes. Power produced is fed directly to the main supply for use in the facility,” said Melanie Boulay Becker, a representative from Trane, the company that designed the renovations. “The upgrades at Old Colony High School have cut their energy consumption by 50%,”
While the renovations to Old Colony were extensive, they were achieved without increasing taxes or tapping town coffers.
According to Boulay, the upgrades were paid for by a special tax-exempt municipal lease. The money to pay for the lease is taken directly from the energy savings provided by the new equipment. This style of “performance contract” allows public schools to use future operational and energy savings to fund these projects, rather than requiring the schools to pay a large amount up front.
By Eric Tripoli