$155K to support energy efficiency projects across Franklin County

  • The town of Warwick will use its $136,103 grant to repair HVAC equipment at the former school. STAFF FILE PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 5/16/2022 2:25:15 PM
Modified: 5/16/2022 2:23:28 PM

Three Franklin County towns received grants to fund energy efficiency and renewable energy projects through the state’s Green Communities Division.

The towns of Warwick, Bernardston and Buckland each received money that will go toward building renovations around town, such as the replacement of air source heat pumps, insulation and other energy conservation measures. Warwick received $136,103, Bernardston received $13,805 and Buckland got $5,000, making for a total of $154,908 across the county

Warwick Buildings and Energy Committee Chair Janice Kurkoski said the majority of the money will go toward air source heat pumps and similar projects at the former Warwick Community School, which may start hosting a full-time elementary school come fall 2023 if the town completes its withdrawal from the Pioneer Valley Regional School District.

“We’ve been a Green Community since 2015 and we’ve made good progress with weatherization and air source heat pumps in three of the other town buildings,” Kurkoski explained. “But the school is by far the biggest energy user as far as buildings go in town … more than double all the other buildings combined.”

Under the Green Communities Act, cities and towns must meet five criteria to be designated a Green Community and receive funding. The grants provide financial support for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects that further the designated communities’ clean energy goals. The state estimates the projects being funded in Franklin County, as well as the others funded in this round of grants across Massachusetts, will reduce emissions by 3,316 metric tons, roughly equal to taking nearly 700 cars off the road, according to the state Department of Energy Resources.

Kurkoski said the former Warwick Community School’s extreme energy use is a result of the ventilation system and the fact that all the other municipal buildings are “relatively small.” While the community tackles the school’s energy use, Kurkoski noted the town is “down 38% in our buildings’ energy use since 2013, our baseline year.”

“We’re in a good position to not only repair the school’s HVAC equipment,” she said, “but also plan for when the school is operating as a school again.”

Outside of the six air source heat pumps, Kurkoski said town officials are looking at a new hot water heater, a new freezer and window inserts for 42 windows. Additionally, they will take a look at the 22-year-old boilers in the building as they prepare for the “inevitable” decommissioning of them. She said they are hoping to be “finished by the end of August” so the town can apply for another round of Green Communities grants.

Bernardston Selectboard Chair Brian Keir said the town’s $13,805 award will go toward “insulation at the Highway Garage and a mini split for the offices in the building,” which will help the heating and air conditioning system be more “energy efficient.”

Keir said these projects have been on the town’s radar for a “little while” and it will be nice to knock them out as officials prepare for the 2022 Green Communities application, for which the town has not committed to any projects yet as it awaits an energy audit on town buildings.

“We’re in the process of formulating our list. We’ve recently had some audits done on town buildings, including the Senior Center,” Keir said. “It comes down to where the greatest bang for our buck would fall.”

Chris Larabee can be reached at clarabee@recorder.com or 413-930-4081.


E-Edition & Local Ads


Weather


athol forecast

Social Media




Athol Daily News

14 Hope Street,
Greenfield, MA 01302-1367
Telephone: (413) 772-0261

 

Copyright © 2021 by Newspapers of Massachusetts, Inc.