Energy Audit to Look for New Ways to Make Town Hall Greener

Credits: Carmel Town Hall

MAHOPAC, N.Y.— The Town Board is looking to save taxpayers some money and perhaps be a little more environmentally friendly at the same time as it mulls plans to undertake an energy audit of the town hall in Mahopac.

Town engineer Richard Franzetti and Councilman Jonathan Schneider met with representatives from the New York Power Authority (NYPA) in August in hopes of finding ways for the town to be more energy-efficient. NYPA is the largest state public power organization in the country and provides some of the lowest-cost electricity in the nation. It uses no state tax dollars and incurs no state debt.

During the meeting, NYPA proposed a Level II energy survey (audit) and an engineering analysis of the town hall, which Franzetti has asked the Town Board to approve. The intent of the audit is to identify practical energy-efficiency measures, and cost analysis, and offer possible changes to operation and maintenance procedures. The audit will also include a list of potential capital improvements that require more-thorough data collection and engineering analysis and their associated costs and savings.

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The impetus for the audit came from a meeting that Schneider had with a friend who had just joined NYPA and recommended that the councilman reach out to the organization.

“So we met with a [NYPA] representative and discussed what they do and went over a few suggestions,” Schneider said. “They suggested an energy audit of our town hall to see what we can do for some cost savings regarding our energy use and consumption, and to make it a more energy-efficient and environmentally friendly building.”

Franzetti, who had already begun to examine energy issues at the town hall, said the audit, which would cost the town a little over $5,200, will look at a plethora of potential improvements, such as upgrading the windows and changing the type of light fixtures and light bulbs currently used in the building.

“The windows here in town hall are single-pane glass,” Franzetti noted. “That is something they could help us out with.”

Franzetti said NYPA also has myriad ways of funding any improvements in the building that the town might wish to undertake.

“They can help identify funding sources such as grants and programs offered by the state,” he said. “They also have low-interest loans that can help us realize the return on investment on things such as boilers, a new heater or AC, which would save money because they are more energy-efficient.”

Franzetti said once the audit is complete, the town will have to figure out which projects to take on and how to pay for them.

“We have to prioritize where we would get our best return on investment,” he said. “How much money will we save in the long run? It’s not that we don’t want to do it all, but we will have to prioritize. This is just the first step in a process.”

Schneider said that NYPA showed them some hypothetical scenarios that were “budget-positive within the first year” due to preferred finance rates.

“NYPA has below-prime-rate loans, so that’s a no-brainer there,” the councilman said.

Schneider said the town will also use its recently hired grant writer to work hand-in-hand with NYPA and Franzetti to find grant money that would further offset the cost of any capital improvements.

If the town hall project is successful, he said, the energy-saving endeavors could be extended to other town entities.

“One thing we are doing is looking in the lighting districts and seeing if retrofitting our streetlights or pedestal lights with LEDs would provide cost savings and what the return on investment from that would be,” he said. “We have to reach out to New York State Electric and Gas to purchase the poles and then would have [to endure] the additional cost of retro fitting, so there is more legwork to do on the numbers for that, but it’s something we are looking into.

“As long as this [town hall] project follows through as the hypothetical [savings] shows that it will,” he added, “we’ll definitely look at our other buildings, but this is just a trial to make sure we are on the right path before investing.”

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