Categorized | A Conversation With

Joel Halsey

Posted on 28 March 2012

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The senior environmental analyst with the Town of East Hampton talks about why business will benefit from a business energy forum hosted by the town next week, what kind of business strategies businesses can use to save money and reduce its carbon footprint and why we all have to do our part to create a more sustainable environment.

Where did the idea of the business energy forum originate?

The idea came out of a Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) Energy Efficiency Conference in February. I attended the conference and I thought this would be great information to get out to the East End. After discussing it with a representative from LIPA it was agreed this would be a valuable forum, so that is how we got here. (East Hampton Town) Supervisor Bill Wilkinson has been very supportive about the idea of the town looking at ways to support renewable energy and energy efficiency throughout the town and Michael Hervey’s efforts at LIPA and was happy for us to bring this into East Hampton.

Who is involved? What kinds of energy efficiency strategies will we be talking about?

We will have a representative from LIPA, of course, but we will also have a representative from TRC Engineering, as well as Lime Energy and Energy Tax Savers. They will all give a brief, 10-minute presentation regarding LIPA’s energy efficiency programs and the Small Business Direct Install (SBDI) program, which effectively offers business owners the ability to retrofit non-efficient lighting. TRC Engineering is a consultant that works with LIPA to offer businesses free energy assessments. What they do is assess a business and offer suggestions on where they can improve their energy efficiency, whether it’s lighting, or through the heating and air conditioning systems – anywhere that they can see an upgrade where it would be a benefit to the business and that business owner could save money in the long term is something they will suggest. Often it can be an efficiency that will pay for itself in as little as seven years. Energy Tax Savers will offer information on federal and state tax incentives to upgrade your business based on energy efficiencies that reduce the wattage of your business so that it requires less per square footage. It will be a comprehensive conference for business owners.

As an environmental planner, how much saving can a business achieve by adopting some of these practices.

The Town of East Hampton is currently in contract for seven Small Business Direct Install programs in its own buildings. In one of those cases, at 260 Springs Fireplace Road, the cost of the project is $8,564. LIPA will cover $5,995, so the town will pay $2,569. We will lower our lighting bill by 51-percent monthly with a 70-percent utility incentive and will see payback 10 months. It’s a no brainer. This is savings in the long run.

The town is developing its own comprehensive energy plan. What are some of the things the town is working on to make itself more energy efficient?

We are working on an overall reduction on non-renewable energy levels within the whole of the town, although it is in the very nascent stages. Electrical engineering is the easiest fruit to pick off the branch, but we can start to look at everything. It will all be on the table from transportation to heating fuel. We would not just like it to be a municipal vision, but a vision for the whole town. We view this as being a leader by example.

Is there legislation planned for this comprehensive energy strategy?

We will look at legislation that accomplishes encouraging new or reconstructed properties to look towards energy efficiency. We will look at a town-wide policy and consider code changes, whether that is Energy Star compliance or LEED (Leadership in Energy or Environmental Design). Right now we do have an energy conservation code required for compliance, but there honestly has not been a lot of new construction to tell us how that is working. It would be nice to see any new construction or renovations have to comply with Energy Star or striving for LEED status.

How meaningful, from an economic perspective, is it for businesses to adopt some of the energy efficiency models you will present next week?

The lighting retrofits offered are a no-brainer and as a business owner you will save money within a year and as a property owner you are talking about a capital improvement to your property. After two years, you are making money.

What is the environmental benefit?

Every watt that we can reduce in usage we are reducing the amount of non-renewable energy resources that are being expended. Even if you reduce your use by one watt of power, every little bit counts in my mind. When it comes to clean air, it is ephemeral. Whether you’re impacted simply depends on which way the wind blows.

East Hampton Town’s Energy Saving Forum will be held on Monday, April 2 at 10 a.m. at Town Hall on Pantigo Road. For more information, contact Joel Halsey at 324 2178.

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