The Elm City’s energy conservation program has made the city greener both outside and inside of the bank.
The United States Department of Energy has named New Haven a “success story” for energy efficiency and renewable energy programs that have been in place for the past 10 years — ever since Mayor John DeStefano Jr. took office. According to the City of New Haven Energy Conservation Program summary, the program had reduced energy and maintenance costs by approximately $22.4 million total from 1994 to the end of fiscal year 2004.
The program originally came about to help cut costs so DeStefano could continue his plan to build 50 new K-12 schools in 10 years, which city Budget Director Frank Altieri said would cost approximately $1.2 billion. At the time, he said the city was spending $14 million on energy, and it seemed like cutting energy costs would help fund the school project.
“[DeStefano] was able to recognize the problem very early on and was able to save New Haven a lot of money by becoming more energy efficient as a result of it,” New Haven Energy Consultant Ed Melchiori said.
The technical measures the DeStefano administration has implemented to make the city more energy efficient include reducing energy used by stop lights, real-time energy management and changing bulbs in street lights. New Haven is the only city in Connecticut to employ such a wide range of conservation methods, Melchiori said.
Stop lights in New Haven now use light emitting diodes instead of the traditional incandescent bulb, reducing traffic light energy expenditures by 85 percent, as well as having a seven- to eight-year life. The diode is similar to those that power indiglo watches, flat screen televisions and other LED devices.
Schools and other public buildings in the city have real-time energy managers, who monitor and control how much energy a facility use. The managers track energy in real-time and determine when energy demands are the highest and most costly.
The energy program also includes retrofitting buildings with automatic light switches and using national standards to build greener, more energy-efficient structures.
Altieri said the motives for transforming New Haven into an energy-friendly community are twofold.
“We are conservationists here and that means that we like to save our resources,” he said. “But we also like to save lots of money, and so far, we have been able to do both with our energy programs.”
Transportation in New Haven has also been revolutionized by the measures the DeStefano administration has implemented, DeStefano deputy chief of staff Robert Smuts ’01 said.
“We have designed from the ground up a more energy efficient vehicle fleet using hybrid vehicles for all of our departments,” he said. “We also use renewable energy sources, and we have changed the fuel we use and have effectively cut down exhaust from city vehicles.”
New Haven’s emphasis on energy conservation has reduced the city’s annual energy and water consumption by 15 percent and earned it three Green Circle Awards from the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection.
The timing of New Haven’s energy success will likely be utilized in DeStefano’s gubernatorial campaign, Altieri said. He said DeStefano encourages other cities to follow New Haven’s example.