The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, August 14, 2009

Task Force takes a closer look at energy usage

At their July 21 meeting the Carlisle Energy Task Force discussed several ways to reduce fuel expenses and improve energy efficiency.

Committee member and Carlisle Building Inspector John Luther suggested setting up energy audits of town buildings with NStar and National Grid. Chair Dan Cook agreed and suggested asking for infrared scans during the audits.

Task Force members include (left to right): Glenn Reed, Steve Hinton, Chair Dan Cook, Helen Young and Carlisle Building Inspector John Luther. (Photo by Cynthia Sorn)

Carlisle School is highest energy consumer

Committee member Glenn Reed suggested there may be more energy savings at the Carlisle School than the recent state audit revealed (see “Town energy audit sparks conservation” July 3, Mosquito). He said the committee should focus on the school “because it is two-thirds of the energy costs” of the town. Luther suggested the school might be a location for a wind turbine. Cook said that school renovations should focus on energy conservation. The team decided to request a walk through of the school buildings.

When Luther noted talk about shutting down the wastewater plant, “We should push this idea of tying in the library” to the plant, Cook said. “Ferns could tie in,” replied Luther, adding that “maybe the downtown area could make use of it.” Susan Stamps, a member of the Climate Action Committee and the Housing Authority, suggested the Housing Authority could use it.

Task force tours Carlisle School

A week after the meeting, on July 31, the group toured the school with Custodian Danny Flannery. The group viewed the boiler room in the basement of the Wilkins Building, declared “one of the cleanest ever visited.” They learned about the air conditioning units in Corey and the Robbins Library, viewed the dehumidifiers which are used to dry the rugs after they are washed, inspected the various types of lighting, water heaters, computers, electrical panels, and kitchen appliances in the dining room. The group was pleased by skylights in the Wilkins hallway which allow lights to be kept off during the day. Some of the group’s suggestions, such as replacing the single pane windows in the Wilkins Building and in the library, will be renovations included in the school building project.

Anti-idling law

The committee discussed the new anti-idling regulations signed into law in February (see Stamps voiced concern about buses idling at Carlisle School. She said she checked with the main office and learned there was no official written policy against buses idling. Superintendent Marie Doyle was contacted later for comment and explained by email: “Administrators meet with the drivers before school begins each year. At that time, we review safety issues as well as how to address student concerns. In addition, bus drivers are specifically reminded of the law that buses cannot idle for more than five minutes.”

Stamps said the Climate Action Committee will be asking the Selectmen to enforce the anti-idling law in town, especially at the school and the transfer station. Stamps said she wants to work on an anti-idling educational campaign and would like to post signs about the law in town. The committee passed a motion to “strongly support” the enforcement of the anti-idling law.

Town Hall needs work

The talk turned to the need to conserve energy in the Town Hall. Luther commented, “This building is a perfect example of what not to do.” Cook agreed. “This building has problems with heat and we should look at that when we have the building audited.” Luther added, “Last summer for a few days people were sent home because the cooling system was broken.”

Electricity is the main source of heat energy, Cook said. Adding to the electricity costs is the use of individual space heaters in some offices. “Unless we are going around with sledge hammers there will always be space heaters,” said committee member Steve Hinton. Luther said he would talk to Town Administrator Madonna McKenzie regarding the parking lot lights. “They have a timer but the system gets flakey,” he said.

Other municipal buildings

Luther noted the heat system in the “hut” at the Transfer Station could be upgraded, but Reed replied that the potential savings were not very high. Luther noted that trucks used at the Transfer Station run on lower cost diesel fuel. “The energy bill at the fire station and police station isn’t too crazy,” said Luther. He said he did not see a lot of opportunity for savings there. Cook replied that the windows at the fire station probably were single pane. “We should look at caulking,” he said, “maybe tighten up that building.” The same areas would be reviewed at the police station. Work is being done on the Gleason Library, Luther noted, and said he would look into what energy conservation plans are in place.

Grants may be available

Luther said Carlisle could apply for a grant of $3,000 from the Metropolitan Area Planning Council to purchase bicycle racks. “We could use more racks,” including at the Cranberry Bog, he said. Reed is investigating funding grants from the Massachusetts energy office. “There’s money there for solar,” said Luther, and he suggested “finding out what the sources are.” ∆

© 2009 The Carlisle Mosquito