By Jennifer Turian
When the Boys and Girls Club of Greenwich opened its first electricity bill of 2015, jaws dropped at the staggering $50,000 required for a month of what the club’s leaders call “occupancy costs.”
Chief Executive Officer of BGCG Bobby Walker Jr. said the cost was an anomaly. Until that bill was followed by a $49,000 bill and another for $48,000.
The bill were enough to spark an energy-efficiency renovation, through Eversource’s Energize Connecticut resources. Now the organization’s headquarters has updated lighting and ventilation systems that are saving the club around $41,000 a year.
“Every office has been retrofitted with new lights and light fixtures,” said Walker during a tour of the club’s new energy-efficiency improvements Monday morning that showed off the results to a handful of interested people, including First Selectman Peter Tesei, state Reps. Mike Bocchino and Fred Camillo. “The new lighting is much brighter and uses less energy. To be able to do these two thing at the same time is a huge win for us.”
The project that installed high-efficiency lighting at the club also updated the ventilation system to better heat and cool the building through 13 variable frequency drive controls — which allow the building’s ventilation system to use between 15 and 100 percent of its force based on temperature — spread throughout the building.
“If the temperature is close to the set point, you don’t need fans at full speed,” said David Marroney, the Eversource-authorized contractor from Controlled Air Inc. “It reduces energy costs on fans as well as pumping.”
Walker said, while pointing out one VFD in the boiler room, that former ventilation system had only two options: on or off. Being able to adjust the fan speed based on temperature, he said, is huge when there have been up to 470 kids in the club at one time.
New lighting has been installed on the first floor and in the pool, gym, field house and garage. Because of incentives offered by Eversource, the cost to upgrade the light and ventilation systems together was cut in half, with savings between $70,000 and $71,000, club officials said.
“From Eversource, I’d like to thank you for being open and receptive to this,” said Ron Araujo, Eversource manager of energy efficiency. “It is a key partnership we have working with our customers and vendors.”
After this summer, the club will be able to assess its savings from last year’s air-conditioning season, when the VFDs first were officially put in use. Walker said the project will pay for itself within 18 months.
The money saved goes directly back to BGCG’s new and existing programs, Walker said.
“First and foremost, it reduces how much it costs us to do this,” said Walker. “Some things we’ve already been able to do this year, like increase our STEM offerings, that we weren’t able to do before … Right now we are doing a digital game design course, and other things up in our computer room as a result of these savings.”