Boston's EPC, PPA Plans Have Potential Big Impact

By Greg Zimmerman, Executive Editor  
OTHER PARTS OF THIS ARTICLEPt. 1: Todd Isherwood Transforming City of Boston's Energy StrategiesPt. 2: Library Energy Project Replaced Outmoded SystemsPt. 3: Centralizing Energy Management in City of Boston Buildings Pt. 4: Making Retrocommissioning a PriorityPt. 5: This Page

The projects with the biggest potential impact on energy efficiency and renewable energy are best done on the largest scale possible. One of Isherwood's main goals for 2015 is to identify how best to do that.

In December 2014, he got some help. Boston Mayor Martin Walsh, building on the Renew Boston initiative first announced in 2009 by then-Mayor Thomas Menino, announced the formation of the Renew Boston Trust. The goal, the mayor said, would be "to manage energy retrofits of large public buildings that are self-financed by future savings." In other words, Boston would dive in head first to a series of energy performance contracts (EPCs).

This was music to Isherwood's ears, as performance contracting fits nicely into his philosophy of energy efficiency: "What they do is connect capital construction people and projects with facility managers," he says. "The capital construction group is used to building new projects, but they're not in the habit of maintaining them. EPCs make that connection."

For now, however, the charge for Isherwood is to determine which projects should be included in energy performance contracts and which should remain city-funded. "I'd envision that the projects for which we'll do EPCs will be very large capital renovations," he says. For instance, he's currently looking at 10 1970s-era Boston Public School buildings. "Can we take a portfolio of buildings of similar age and similar systems and put those into EPCs?" he says. "It'd be a multi-million dollar project, but we'd see huge energy savings."

Similarly, the city is delving into power purchase agreements (PPA) to procure renewable energy, and Isherwood is working to determine the scope and scale of projects. Isherwood says he's in the midst of doing a feasibility study to determine which 15 to 20 buildings are the best candidates for photovoltaics — for instance, buildings that have a lot of available square footage on the roof, and roofs less than seven years old. The goal, he says, is to send out requests for proposals in 2015 for a total of 3 to 4 MWs of solar power on those buildings.

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  posted on 2/7/2015   Article Use Policy

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