Cambridge Energy Alliance Helps Local Businesses Reduce Wasted Energy and Water


5/21/2009

The Cambridge Energy Alliance (CEA) is making it easier for the city’s businesses to better manage their operating costs by helping owners identify and reduce energy and water waste.

 

Kirkland Cleaners is the first business in Cambridge to begin reaping the benefits of this new energy efficiency program administered by the Cambridge Energy Alliance (CEA). Owners Patricia and Mark Bircham expect to save about 20 percent each year on their utility bills and reduce CO2 emissions by 8.5 metric tons per year thanks to a free comprehensive energy audit and a new high-efficiency heating system recently installed at the Kirkland Street dry cleaners and laundromat.  In addition to reducing their energy bill, Kirkland Cleaners is saving approximately 100,000 gallons of water per month, enough to fill 3,000 bathtubs.

 

CEA conducted the energy audit at the dry cleaners last spring and recommended that the Birchems replace old washing machines with high-efficiency front loaders, install automatic switches to shut off lights and replace an inefficient 25-year-old heating system.

 

In November 2008, the Birchems replaced their aging heating system with three high-efficiency tankless water heaters. As a result, the dry cleaners have already saved on their monthly gas bill. The new boilers cost about $11,000, which will take about four years to pay back with the estimated energy savings.

 

“Managing all the legwork required for this type of project is difficult when you’re running a business,” Patricia Birchem said. “We’ve always been interested in energy efficiency, but sometimes you don’t even know where to start. The Cambridge Energy Alliance made it easy for us to incorporate energy efficiency into our business.”

 

The CEA program offers comprehensive energy audits for Cambridge business, in most cases, for free. The program also offers low-interest loans to help pay for the installation of energy and water conservation measures. Because the CEA has developed a working partnership with the City of Cambridge, NSTAR and different energy companies, the organization is able to deliver one-stop customer service that allows business owners and residents to be involved with the process without having to manage it themselves.

 

“Instead of the owner working with several different entities to schedule the audit, hire the contractors, pull the permits and apply for incentives, they have one person who handles all of those pieces for them,” said Josh Hassol, CEO of the Cambridge Energy Alliance.

In addition to improving their bottom line, the Birchems take pride in the fact that the energy efficiency improvements at Kirkland Cleaners will have a positive impact on the environment as well.

 

“It's not just the money, it's also trying to run a green operation here in Cambridge,” Birchem said.

 

As a result of the collaboration with CEA, Kirkland Cleaners has gained recognition as a business leader and owner Patricia Bircham was chosen to present her strategy and success story at the Governor's Clean Energy Challenge Conference & Expo in May.  The business has also been nominated for the City of Cambridge Go Green Award.

 

The CEA program has a goal of eliminating 150,000 tons of greenhouse gases through a range of measures including cutting peak energy demand across the City of Cambridge by 50 megawatts (MW). This reduction is equivalent to eliminating the consumption of 15,445,823 gallons of gasoline, 316,450 barrels of oil, or the total energy demand of 12,010 homes.

In the coming years, CEA will help thousands of Cambridge business and residential customers identify and arrange financing for all cost-effective efficiency and renewable measures. The CEA is currently scheduling energy efficiency audits for businesses and homes throughout Cambridge with a goal to serve 50 percent of all Cambridge buildings and reduce electricity demand by 15 percent over the next five to six years.

 

The Cambridge Energy Alliance (CEA) is a city-sponsored non-profit organization that is creating a groundbreaking program to significantly reduce energy and water use in Cambridge, Massachusetts. For more information, visit us at www.cambridgeenergyalliance.org .

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