Canton officials see audit as road to sustainability
REPOSITORY STAFF REPORT
CANTON An energy audit will study what it costs to heat, cool and operate city buildings and recommend what could be done to cut costs and be more efficient. The comprehensive audit and utility assessment also will examine ways to more efficiently run city-owned vehicles and reduce the production of trash in city government. City utility services water and sewer are part of the review.
Audit proposals will be accepted from consulting engineering firms, energy consulting firms, academic institutions and other organizations qualified to conduct the analysis, according to a legal notice advertising the project. The deadline is Aug. 20.
The intent is to form a prioritized list of capital improvement projects designed to reduce energy consumption and waste production, and a prioritized list of operational changes that could help the city better manage its facilities.
A final report would prioritize the recommendations based on cost benefit and return on investment strategies, according to a city draft detailing the scope of the audit. The consultant or consultants hired will be asked to provide training for city departments on how to implement the recommendations.
“With the cost of energy and gasoline spiraling higher and higher, efficiency is no longer a luxury,” Mayor William J. Healy II said in a press release earlier this week. “Canton taxpayers are making lifestyle changes to deal with these rising costs, and I believe city government has a responsibility to do the same.” City Council President Allen Schulman agrees.
“I think with this energy audit and other things we’re trying to do, we’re going to get in front and we’re going to be a leader,” said Schulman, chairman of the 20-member Mayor’s Commission on Sustainability, created by Healy.
The Mayor’s Commission on Sustainability recommended the energy audit. The commission was established to review and implement portions of the Canton Sustainability Collaborative study, which was completed last year by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, with support from the city, Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Special Improvement District.
The commission includes Councilman Greg Hawk, D-1; former Councilman Richard Hart; Service Director Thomas Bernabei; Dennis Saunier, president of the Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce; state Rep. Stephen D. Slesnick, D-Canton; and Betsy Boze, dean of the Kent State University Stark Campus.
The city will weigh the cost of the audit versus the short- and long-term benefits, Schulman said. A college or university might be able to conduct a portion of the audit at a minimal cost with the help of students, he said. A committee led by Bernabei will interview prospective consultants, Schulman said.
“The cost will pale in comparison to what the taxpayers will save when we become a sustainable community,” said Schulman, who would like to select a consultant in the next 60 days with the goal of completing a preliminary audit in the next six months.
The audit may be completed in phases, with different consultants potentially conducting different parts of the project, said Adam Herman, the mayor’s communications director.
“The cost of the improvements will largely dictate when and how we move forward, but I suspect we will be able to justify the costs in the long run to make some major changes here in the near future,” Healy said in the news release.
An energy audit is one step in making Canton a sustainable city, Schulman said.
“A sustainable community is one that … protects and uses its resources in a wise fashion,” he said.
“We’ve reached a critical mass with the leadership of the community, and the community itself, in believing this is absolutely essential in maintaining the vibrancy of our city,” Schulman said, referring to city leaders, chamber of commerce officials, the business community and residents.
“To be a viable city and to be competitive, not only with cities in the United States but with cities across the world, we’ve got to take this step in order to attract professional talent and in order to attract green-collar jobs,” he said. “Aside from the fact it’s good for the Earth, the underlying goal is to take sustainability and use it as an economic development tool.”
Reach Repository writer Ed Balint at (330) 580-8315 or e-mail:
The city of Canton is accepting proposals from consultants to conduct an extensive energy audit and utility assessment of city buildings and operations. According to a draft detailing the scope of the audit, the project would:
- Create a comprehensive list of municipal buildings and structures that consume energy or resources, and quantify the amount and cost of energy or resources consumed over a 12-month period.
- Rank city facilities by energy usage, and determine which facilities have the greatest opportunity to achieve energy or resource reductions with capital construction or management changes.
- Review the gas, electrical and mechanical systems in city buildings, including cooling systems, heating systems, air distribution systems, hot water systems, automatic temperature control systems and interior and exterior lighting.
- Estimate the cost savings and life expectancy of the changes and projects recommended, providing the analysis methodology, supporting calculations and assumptions used to come up with the figures.
- Estimate any environmental costs or benefits of the proposed capital improvements and operational recommendations, such as disposal costs, avoided emissions and water conversation.