Historic Reading, MA, recently attacked the rapid rise in energy, fuel, and water prices head-on with an expansive upgrade to bring 15 buildings into the modern age.
Reading Public Schools and Town of Reading officials identified $5.5 million in improvements for system upgrades, new equipment, and energy efficiency initiatives at every Reading municipal building, police and fire stations, senior center, library, and schools.
The project ultimately spanned 20 months and offers an overall payback period of roughly 15 years, according to NORESCO, the Westborough, MA-based energy services company that assisted Reading with implementing the changes.
However, the town is already noticing steep savings. In one year, the energy efficiency improvements alone have saved over $340,000 in annual energy consumption and reduced emissions by about 1,300 tons of carbon dioxide, 3.5 tons of sulfur oxides, and 2 tons of nitrogen oxides, NORESCO says – the equivalent of removing about 340 cars from the road each year.
Measures with the highest ROI, such as lighting retrofits and occupancy sensor installation, were targeted first, along with seasonal necessities like boiler replacements at Reading Town Hall and West Side Fire Station. Some individual buildings will realize paybacks of just a few years, including some of the elementary schools where improvements focused on lighting systems and controls, water conservation, energy management systems, and weatherization.
“We’ve made it our mission to educate faculty and students about the importance of their environment and energy use,” said Mary C. DeLai, director of finance and operations for Reading Public Schools. “We wanted to take what we already had in place and modify behaviors and equipment without sacrificing health or comfort. The intention was to become as efficient as possible so that we may conserve energy and expenditures while contributing to the protection of our environment.”
The Town of Reading and Reading Public Schools chipped in with a $5 million contribution, which included electric, water, and gas rebates and $150,000 from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Energy savings from the project will be used to repay the contribution.