2012-06-15 / In the Know

Fire stations improve energy efficiency

By Ann Archino Howe
Special contributor

Prime examples of the town’s leadership in reducing energy usage are the improvements in the last few years in the five fire station buildings.

Both Chief Michael Thurlow and Deputy Chief of Operations Glen Deering are constantly seeking ways to operate the fire stations more efficiently.

Since 2007, the town baseline year for measuring energy and greenhouse gas emissions, all of the fire stations have decreased their energy usage and costs through a combination lighting replacements and sensors, adding infrared bay heat, replacing oil boilers with efficient propane boilers, and, most recently, changing window sashes with energy efficient replacements.

Engine 3, Pleasant Hill Fire Station

Through a combination of grants from Efficiency Maine and capital expenditures by the town the fire stations of Scarborough have been able to reduce energy use substantially.

The Pleasant Hill, Pine Point and North Scarborough fire stations have received the following investments:

2008, light fixture and heating control replacements; 2010, infrared garage bay heat and propane tank installation; 2010, propane boiler and circulator pump installations, replacing oil boilers; and 2012, energy efficient window sash replacements.

The upgrades at the three stations were achieved for a total cost of $67,864. Thousand British Thermal Units (kBTU) is the common unit of measure for energy usage and for comparison of dissimilar forms of energy, in this case, gallons of oil, therms for propane and kWh for electricity.

One BTU equals the amount of energy needed to raise the temperature of one pound of water one degree Fahrenheit. Based on the baseline year, 2007, the change in energy use from the baseline to 2008 and to the end of 2011 has been substantial, between 19 percent and over 30 percent.

The window sash replacements are reflected in the total cost, but there is not yet a year of data on the energy savings from this improvement, but the expectation is that by spring 2013 additional savings can be documented.

Energy cost reductions have occurred in spite of a renegotiation of town power purchase contracts during the time of the study. Annual costs for energy have been reduced an average of $2,000 to $3,000 annually since 2007.

The other fire stations, Black Point and Dunstan, have also seen energy use reductions from lighting replacements and installation of the infrared bay heaters.

The fire department’s achievements and commitment to continual improvement are a commendable example of the town of Scarborough leading by example in the cause of reducing energy usage, costs and greenhouse gas emissions.

Ann Archino Howe is sustainability coordinator for Scarborough.

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