At The Refinishing Touch, we always take the time to connect with our industry peers across the government, hospitality and higher education sectors. Below, Jenna Ide of the Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance of Massachusetts provides us with an inside look at how the organization is making the state’s government buildings and numerous college campuses more sustainable.
The state government is the largest energy user in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. At the Division of Capital Asset Management & Maintenance (DCAMM), we have the Energy Efficiency and Sustainable Buildings Group – or the ‘E-Team’ – to make sure we are doing all we can to reduce energy consumption and ensure that Massachusetts’ facilities are as efficient and sustainable as possible.
The E-team is committed to improving the operation of the Commonwealth’s buildings and capital assets, both existing and new. We value efficiency, innovation, strategic planning, and results.
As with any environmental venture, taking an idea to the point of construction is vital but often difficult. Thus, the primary work of our team is to ensure energy, water, and renewable projects at state facilities are completed. We coordinate the appropriate parties, manage the production of audits and schematic designs, develop contracts with our legal team, create financial plans for each project, and procure projects. We also manage the utility programs on behalf of the Commonwealth agencies, and coordinate energy related grants across the Commonwealth.
As part of our mission, the E-Team is spearheading the Massachusetts Accelerated Energy Program (AEP). AEP will reduce energy consumption within 700 state sites representing more than 4,000 buildings and 58 million square feet. We’re looking forward to the results – AEP will create about 4,000 clean energy jobs and save the Commonwealth an estimated $43 million annually.
Recently, our team completed one of the first AEP projects at Northern Essex Community College. The project included updating an antiquated heating system and upgrades to lighting, energy management controls, hot water heaters, and other measures. The project cost around $6 million, and will save the college over $350,000 annually while reducing greenhouse gases by 28 percent.
As professionals in the building industry, we recognize the importance of LEED ratings. The state has adopted a Massachusetts LEED Plus green building standard that requires energy performance of 20 percent or better than the Massachusetts Energy Code. This means that all new construction and major renovations are held to the highest green standards.
To help facilities achieve these standards, we work with our partners and consultants to look at all feasible measures. When we see an obstacle to implementing a good energy or water technology, we work to see if we can find the resources to solve the problem. We always aim for as much efficiency savings as we can. One challenge is that Massachusetts colleges and universities are growing, so we need to find creative ways to decrease energy use while serving more students.
One of our newest initiatives is called Toward Zero Net Energy, where we are working within facilities to create a building producing more energy than its using.
Maintaining Massachusetts’ status as a leader in energy requires collaboration across state agencies, facility managers and even occupants. This collaboration is important because the benefits of these initiatives like cost savings and reducing pollution, are far reaching and shared by all parties. Every agency we work with is consistently finding ways to save money and improve their facility. It’s also great to see that higher education facilities are embracing the opportunity to integrate these projects into their overall curriculum and educational objectives.