Update to City Council - August 2019

Overview: MEAC is made up of four working groups: Municipal, Residential, Policy and Transportation. We currently have 15 active members of the committee. Our updates are organized by working group:

Municipal

  • Revolving Loan Fund: A variety of projects were completed this spring, including insulation of district heat pipes at the Fire Station, replacement of controls for the Fire Station snowmelt system, weatherstripping of City Hall windows, and replacement of house lights in the City Hall theater with LEDs. Next on the agenda is the weatherstripping and sealing of overhead doors in five different municipal buildings. The first two doors were tested this week using a blower door test; after sealing is complete they will be tested again by Efficiency Vermont to help us determine the energy savings. Then we will move forward with sealing the remaining doors.

  • WRRF: With the Organics-to-Energy upgrades now underway, our focus has shifted to Phase 2 and helping to explore the various options for what to do with the excess methane that will be produced.

  • School District: Our working group met with Andrew LaRosa, the Facilities Director for the school district, to talk about energy improvement and fuel switching options for Montpelier’s schools. We were able to connect him with Mark Kelly, the appropriate contact at Efficiency Vermont who works with schools. We will meet with the School Board on 8/28 to continue the conversation around the District’s part in helping to develop our 10 year plan to reach Net Zero by 2030.

  • The inverter for the solar panels at the WRRF has been repaired and we look forward to having that solar production back online after it has been malfunctioning for the past few years.

  • MEAC is looking forward to the upcoming hire of the new Facilities Director/Energy Coordinator position and is poised to support the hiring and onboarding process in whatever way we can.

  • We got good news from the Police Department this week. Since the installation of the heat pumps over the winter/spring, electricity consumption has dropped by nearly 50% compared to last summer due to the increased efficiency of the heat pumps for cooling!

  • We are continuing to work to implement new energy and greenhouse gas tracking software called ClearPath which is available to us as members of ICLEI. The next step will be to input FY19 data and work on how to use their reporting mechanism and forecasting tools.

Policy

  • We have formed a working group to focus on the development of energy efficiency ordinances since the passage of the charter change allowing the City to regulate elements of energy efficiency (particularly focusing on energy labeling at time of listing). The group met with about 15 local realtors on July 26th to get their initial input and feedback. We will hold a public hearing on August 20th, prior to the next MEAC meeting, to talk through the various ideas as we start to develop language for the ordinance. We also met with representatives from NEEP and Efficiency VT to learn more about the new software that will be made available to Montpelier for developing the energy labels.

Residential

  • We have a pilot program underway with Efficiency Vermont to provide targeted outreach and “concierge services” to owners of multi-family buildings in Montpelier to help them access incentives, get quotes from contractors, connect with low cost financing, and project management support.

  • We have recently confirmed plans to bring the Window Dressers program to Montpelier for the first time in January 2020. This is a nonprofit based in Maine that helps communities run local workshops to build low-cost interior storm window inserts using volunteer labor. We will start outreach to potential customers in September, and have secured the use of the Hub at the Berlin Mall for the week of January 13-19 for the community workshop.

  • Now that new weatherization incentives have been funded and announced by the State, we are hoping to work with the Housing Task Force and other partners to help publicize the availability of these new weatherization incentives to Montpelier residents.

Transportation

  • The Sustainable Montpelier Coalition has been hard at work on the roll out of an on-demand microtransit pilot program for Montpelier. The current plan is to use VIA as the software platform and GMT for the operation of the vehicles. The current plan is to start the pilot in summer 2020, pending approval of federal funds which would support the pilot for 2-3 years.

  • An alternative transportation event/mass bike ride was held in July to promote safe bicycle transportation, hosted by Timberhomes.

Kate StephensonComment