BY: BRAD KANE
With a little help from utility ratepayers, two property owners in Manchester and Middletown envision green technology centers where students and business people can learn about the latest in environmentally friendly tools.
“It is not that sexy just to look at it, but to see the after effects as well,” said John Lee, managing member of Manchester developer Dowling on Main, LLC.
Dowling on Main has renovated the former 32,000-square-foot Marlow’s department store building in Manchester with various energy savings measures, such as Energy Star appliances and efficient lighting.
The highlight of the building is its hybrid solar thermal system on the roof — the first of its kind in Connecticut. The system works with the building’s gas-fired heating system to provide 85 percent of the building’s hot water and 25 percent of its space heating.
For the improvements, the developer received $20,025 dollars from the Connecticut Energy Efficiency Fund, an organization funded through a fee on ratepayer bills to finance efficiency improvements in the state’s businesses and homes.
“It was a very unique project that combined some very unique technologies that had never been used before,” said Rich Asselin, senior energy engineer for Berlin electric utility Connecticut Light & Power, which helps administer CEEF. “This type of technology is an example of one that we like to encourage.”
The primary use of Lee’s green improvements are for the 12 apartments in his building, but he also plans on opening the building as a green laboratory for area students from Eastern Connecticut State University, Manchester Community College and regional vocational schools.
Over at the Galleria Design Center in Middletown, owner Gennaro Martorelli’s vision for the green technology center calls for a business-centric approach.
The Galleria plan calls for a series of showrooms for various household improvement product providers — including countertops, appliances, and fixtures — some owned by Martorelli, others leasing his space.
In one space for his showroom, Martorelli would like to construct a green technology center were various companies could set up small booths showcasing how their technology can be used for businesses and homes. The center would include booths for CEEF and the Clean Energy Finance & Investment Authority to discuss utility and government incentives for green projects.
“As far as we know, there is nobody out there with an actual showroom,” Martorelli said.
A nonprofit organization should run the center, Martorelli said, and use the leases from the green technology booths to fund one or two on-staff consultants to discuss what technologies work best for each property.
“We will make the space available for information and seminars,” Martorelli said.
Martorelli contacted CEEF about bringing his green center to fruition, although the discussions are in early stages.
“A significant portion of their contribution will be intellectual knowledge,” Martorelli said. “They have been very supportive so far.”
The Galleria Design Center already has several green technologies. The facility uses specialty skylights from Norwalk-based SunPort Industries, LLC lighting the interior of the building with sunlight. Martorelli plans to install a 250 kilowatt solar array, uses scrap wood from local forestry companies to heat his building, and recycles the water in his fabrication process.
Both the owners of Dowling on Main and the Galleria see the prevalence of green technology as a way to encourage further installations and help Connecticut become a leader in the field while helping businesses achieve savings through the latest innovations.
“It is one thing to talk about insulation and lights, but another thing to see it in practice,” Lee said.
This is why both choose to partner with CEEF and CEFIA, the state’s quasi-public agencies that provides that help to businesses to broaden the state’s knowledge.
“Through offering incentives, we are encouraging people to install better equipment,” Asselin said.