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Massachusetts pushes to cut energy use

Facilities plan to save $43m a year

Renovations at 700 facilities, including MCI-Shirley, are meant to help the state reach energy efficiency and greenhouse gas reduction goals set in 2007 by Governor Patrick.

Jessey Dearing for The Globe/File

Renovations at 700 facilities, including MCI-Shirley, are meant to help the state reach energy efficiency and greenhouse gas reduction goals set in 2007 by Governor Patrick.

Community swimming pools, skating rinks, state universities, courts, police barracks, and highway depots. They will all undergo renovations as part of an initiative launched Tuesday to cut energy consumption at hundreds of state facilities and save an estimated $43 million annually.

The plan will be implemented over the next three years at a total cost of more than $400 million. Renovations at 700 facilities are meant to help the state reach energy efficiency and greenhouse gas reduction goals set in 2007 by Governor Deval Patrick.

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The renovations will run the gamut, but are expected to include replacing lighting, installing new windows or insulation, upgrading existing heating and cooling systems, and putting up renewable energy sources, such as solar panels.

“Massachusetts will continue to lead the country in the clean energy revolution,” said Richard K. Sullivan Jr., secretary of energy and environmental affairs. “This is absolutely ratcheting up the aggressiveness of the program.”

The effort, overseen by the state’s Department of Energy Resources and the Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance, will be funded by bonds and the Mass Save assistance and incentive program.

While the state is borrowing the money for the renovations, officials say they will use the annual savings expected over the life of the improvements to pay for it all.

“It’s a very creative and effective financing mechanism to make a leap forward in greening the Commonwealth’s facilities,” said Glen Shor, secretary of administration and finance.

The state government is the largest energy user in the Commonwealth, spending over $250 million and consuming more than 1 billion kilowatt hours of electricity each year.

The average Massachusetts home uses roughly 630 kilowatt hours a month, or about 7,600 kilowatt hours a year.

Patrick identified cutting energy consumption as a key issue early in his first term. Among other things, he aimed to cut energy use at state facilities by 35 percent from 2004 levels within the next seven years.

“He was very clear that if we’re going to ask the citizens of Massachusetts to invest in energy efficiency and renewables, we at the state level have to lead by example,” said Mark Sylvia, commissioner of the Department of Energy Resources, one of the initiative’s leading agencies.

Since then, Sylvia said, the state has invested approximately $10 million in stimulus funds outfitting facilities with meters that help track energy use in real time.

Such investments have helped Massachusetts become a leader in energy conservation.

For the past two years, the American Council for an Energy­-Efficient Economy, a nonprofit advocacy group, has ranked the Commonwealth as the most energy efficient state.

The program launched Tuesday — after more than a year in the works — is just a continuation of those past efforts, Sylvia added.

Carole Cornelison, commissioner of the Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance, said energy audits are being used to identify specific areas of improvement and potential savings in the more than 4,000 buildings that make up the 700 facility sites involved in the program.

“Even buildings that we’ve done [improvements on] some years ago we are now revisiting,” Cornelison said, “to makes sure that we’re maximizing the conservation measures that we’re using to keep the buildings energy efficient.”

WHAT THE INITIATIVE HOPES TO ACCOMPLISH

- $43 million in annual savings

- Create 4,000 clean energy jobs

- Reduce energy consumption 20-25 percent in 700 state facilities, including MCI-Shirley, the State House, and Carson Beach in South Boston.

Erin Ailworth can be reached at eailworth@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @ailworth.
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