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By October 24, 2019 No Comments

We may be biased, but Boston Public Library’s Central Library at Copley Square is the clear winner in this season of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Better Buildings Challenge SWAP between the City of Boston and the City of Atlanta.

Not familiar with this friendly challenge? The DOE Better Buildings Challenge SWAP pits two cities against one another, swapping their energy teams in a behind-the-scene look at their energy efficiency. The 3-part web series starts in Boston, first exploring the Central Library and then taking the Atlanta team to Boston’s central maintenance facility and along Hyde Park Ave. to view new LED streetlights.

The home team line-up includes three heavy-hitters – Chief of Environment, Energy and Open Space Austin Blackmon, Director of Finance for Public Works Ann Carbone, and Energy Manager Adam Jacobs. On their trip to Atlanta, the team toured Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport where they suggested improvements to its HVAC efficiency and saw firsthand how the largest airport in the country outfits its taxiways with more than 3000 LED edge and guard lights. They closed out their tour with a visit to their wastewater management facility and later to a firehouse. Watch the second and final segment of the challenge here and here.

Winner: the Central Library at Copley Square

While the challenge was between two leading cities on energy efficiency, in our opinion (excuse our bias Atlanta) the Central Library at Copley Square came out on top. Under the direction of the Superintendent of Library Buildings Jim Meade, the Boston Public Library is a shining example of energy efficiency and best-practice in facilities operations and maintenance.

The Central Library has undergone numerous updates to improve its energy efficiency, including a new cooling tower, air handling unit upgrades, variable frequency drives on mechanical equipment, lighting upgrades and retrofits to LED, auto shades in windows, adding exterior trees for shade, and more.

The most innovative energy efficiency measure is the building’s new Energy Management System (EMS), which integrate legacy HVAC controls equipment and introduce optimal start and stop times based on outside temperature conditions. In addition, the EMS has the ability to integrate other energy using systems such as lights, security, and water-use to allow building management greater control of the entire building’s operation and allowing staff to monitor aggregate building electrical load in real-time.

The City’s Energy Manager Adam Jacobs, who monitors all of the City’s energy use, explains how this helps Jim save energy and money:

“Jim is really showing what leadership and operational excellence looks like. From the top-down, BPL facilities, contractors and library staff are collectively working to reduce energy consumption. Not only have they built schedules into their EMS, but they’ve also communicated these schedules to library staff so they know during peak times when energy costs are highest, certain areas of the building are temporarily closed down.”

Many of these improvements were achieved through a partnership with Eversource. From 2010-2016, the Boston Public Library worked with Eversource to complete 40 energy efficiency projects throughout their branches.  These projects have resulted in reducing electric energy consumption by 1.4M kWh and have been supported by over $300,000 in energy efficiency incentives from Eversource.

Why this matters to you

Just like the the library does, you can keep your energy use low in your own home by turning off lights and unplugging appliances when they’re not in use. The City even has resources for Boston residents to take advantage of the same rebates and incentives to make your home more energy efficient. Learn more about the City’s resources by visiting Renew Boston’swebsite and signing up for a Home Energy Visit.