City Engineer Richard Miller believes that there is energy to be saved in New Haven. And the state of Connecticut just agreed with him, in the form of a $125,000 study grant.
The grant will allow Miller to audit the energy usage in city-owned buildings and then propose changes to New Haven’s current energy policy, which he said may eventually decrease the city’s expenses, as well as help the environment.
According to the “Greenhouse Gas Inventory & Forecast Report” conducted this summer by the City Plan Department, New Haven’s total energy consumption in 1999 was slightly less than 1 billion kilowatt-hours and is scheduled to increase by approximately 17 percent by 2020.
Miller’s energy audit will attempt to determine exactly how much of the energy consumed in city-owned buildings is unnecessary by focusing on ways to reduce energy demand.
“Right now, we’re spending a lot on energy. But if you’re able to save 10 percent on consumption, that’s 10 percent saved this year, 10 percent next year and every other year, forever,” Miller said. “It’s not a one-time deal, and so the returns can be enormous.”
According to the report, City Hall currently uses the most energy of city-owned buildings, with an annual energy expenditure of $405,466, although the Hall of Records has higher energy expenses per square foot.
But the report goes on to say that the predicted increase in municipal energy use will be in large part due to construction and renovation of city schools.
“Up to now, costs have been rising dramatically each year. All these new schools are costing more to operate — more computers, more air conditioning,” said Erik Bartone, an employee of Nexgen, an independent energy consulting firm the city hired to assist with the audit.
The city’s first and second largest consumers of energy are currently Hillhouse High School and Hill Regional Career High School, respectively. Career, New Haven’s newest school, is also the city’s largest emitter of carbon dioxide, producing about 3,000 tons annually.
Total carbon dioxide emissions across New Haven are currently at about 2 million tons and are predicted to increase by about 15 percent by 2020, according to the report.
Bartone said the current plan is to reduce city energy costs by 25 percent through the implementation of more modern energy management and monitoring systems. The city is also attempting to minimize costs by centralizing energy data and management for all city facilities.
Reducing energy consumption frees up city funds, which can then go to other programs, such as education, Miller said.
“With the [anticipated] savings, we hope to be able to provide more scholarships and other such benefits in the future,” he said.