West Tisbury is on the road to becoming a Green Community.
The town is in the final stages of creating a plan to reduce energy use by 20 per cent over the next five years, with the goal of becoming designated a Green Community under the 2008 state Green Communities Act. The designation allows towns to receive special grant funding for energy efficiency studies and improvements to town buildings, among other things.
The town of Tisbury is pursuing the same designation.
“The reason for being a Green Community is one, it’s going to make the community a lower energy user and a green user, and two, there’s money to be had from a sequestered part from the state for doing some of the projects that would be required,” energy committee chairman Sandy Shapiro told the West Tisbury selectmen at their meeting Wednesday.
The deadline for the application is May 30. If the town does not submit the application this year, it will have to wait at least another year to apply again, Mr. Shapiro said.
The eligibility process requires the town to meet five criteria. At the annual town meeting in April, voters approved three of the five, by adopting the so-called building stretch code, which establishes minimum design and construction requirements for energy efficiency, and adopting rules pertaining to town siting for renewable or alternative energy projects, including an expedited permitting process for those projects.
Several weeks ago the selectmen approved the fourth criteria by having the town commit to purchasing only fuel-efficient vehicles (although since highway, police and fire departments are exempt from complying with the standard, only the animal control officer’s vehicle is affected).
On Wednesday, the selectmen were presented with the final criteria, an energy reduction plan that requires the town to set a baseline for all its cars, buildings, lighting and other power uses and reduce them by 20 per cent within five years. Mr. Shapiro cautioned that meeting this last criteria is the hardest part.
He said an audit done by the Cape Light Compact and Rise Engineering shows the town currently uses 2,500 million BTUs annually. In order to qualify for the Green Community designation the town must reduce its consumption by 512 million BTUs over five years. So far the energy committee has found ways to shave 460 million BTUs off the total, Mr. Shapiro said, and the committee is still looking for another 40 million BTUs to cut.
Mr. Shapiro broke down the numbers: about 52 per cent of total energy use can be tracked to town buildings; 47 per cent of the energy use is tracked to town vehicles; while one per cent of total energy use is from streetlights.
In order to achieve reductions, the energy committee is proposing individual plans for the six town buildings. Mr. Shapiro said three buildings need further improvements for energy efficiency: Howes House, the town public safety building, and the town fire station. The new library and planned new police station will be treated separately as a new building and will be incorporated into a 20 per cent reduction target over time, he said. The town hall is the largest energy consumer of all the town buildings, but because the building was recently renovated using excellent building and design practices, Mr. Shapiro said the building has good energy efficiency.
The energy committee is recommending new insulation and air sealing, a new boiler and five new windows for the Howes House. Replacement of the hot water and heating system for the 12-year-old public safety building is recommended in the next five years. And the fire station needs new insulation and replacement of the 20-year-old heating unit boiler. All these changes would add up to significant energy savings, Mr. Shapiro said.
The town is also looking into having the power company, NStar, which owns the streetlights, convert 41 of the 53 lights to high-pressure sodium units which would decrease energy consumption by 50 per cent. If the town took ownership of the streetlights and converted them to an LED system, it would reduce electricity consumption by 60 per cent.
Cost estimates are still under way for the work; Mr. Shapiro said the suggestions “are not written in stone” and there is room for flexibility.
The selectmen said they would take the recommendations under advisement and vote on the plan at their next meeting.
In other business, the selectmen voted unanimously to approve an annual beer and wine license for the Lambert’s Cove Inn. The license still needs approval from the state Alcohol Beverage Control Commission. The inn is the second West Tisbury establishment to obtain license approval since a town bylaw was approved in April clearing the way for selectmen to issue beer and wine licenses to restaurants with 50 seats or more. State Road restaurant won approval from the board last week; that license is also subject to approval from the state Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission.