Energy Savings to Fund Improvements at Lynn Housing Authority and Neighborhood Development
Lynn, MA – The Lynn Housing Authority and Neighborhood Development (LHAND) will cut the demand for energy by nearly 40% at both of its Federally funded properties, Curwin Circle and Wall Plaza, and improve hot water distribution at its largest property by replacing an aging centralized boiler plant with 17 smaller, satellite boiler plants. Additionally, Ameresco will be implementing a large weatherization program as part of a sweeping $6.3 million energy efficiency project.
The future savings from those improvements will be used to pay for the construction costs over a 20-year period. That means the project will be built without added taxpayer dollars and with no relevant effect on the Authority’s budget.
The upgrades also include water conservation improvements expected to cut water use by over one-third, high-efficiency lighting, gas clothes dryers, and more efficient water heating. To finance the project, LHAND will tap a U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) program that allows housing authorities to make energy and water efficiency improvements without having to make an up-front capital investment.
“While we’ve seen energy costs consuming a larger and larger portion of our budget, year after year, it’s been difficult to imagine solving some of our critical infrastructure issues of this size and scope without wiping out our capital budget,” said Charles Gaeta, Lynn Housing Authority and Neighborhood Development Executive Director. “This HUD program will allow us to better control our utility costs, and it will free up our capital needs funding to make other infrastructure improvements.”
Ameresco credited Gaeta along with Paul Gaudet of LHAND for their assistance with HUD, and the LHAND Board of Commissioners for having the vision to incorporate this new type of financing into the Authority’s planning.
Under its regulations, HUD provides incentives for housing authorities to conserve utilities. The HUD program supporting this project allows LHAND to reallocate a portion of what it would have paid to utility companies and, instead, use those funds to pay off a loan to make the improvements.
To handle the project, LHAND has contracted Ameresco, a Framingham-based energy services company. Ameresco was selected from among a handful of other companies that specialize in performance contracting. Gaeta cited the company’s deep experience working with housing authorities. A national company specializing in efficiency projects in existing facilities, such as this one, Ameresco has completed many energy performance contacts for housing authorities in Massachusetts, the New England region, and elsewhere across North America.
“Only through the HUD performance contract program, a large scale heating project like this one, can a housing authority achieve this kind of substantial infrastructure improvement.”, said Ameresco Executive Vice President David Anderson. “It’s a program more housing authorities should pursue.”
As with all its public housing performance contracts, Ameresco helped arrange third party, tax-exempt financing for the LHAND project, Anderson said. Work is expected to commence in September 2009 and take 12 months to complete.
The project will focus on Curwin Circle and Wall Plaza, a mixed family community consisting of 455 units and a sizable elderly/disabled population. Built in 1937, this public housing was one of the first federally funded urban renewal projects in the United States. Gaeta says that the changes will be very concentrated and will have a profound affect on the quality of life for the residents.
The centralized boiler system at Curwin Circle that generates heat for the buildings is the primary target of the project. Like many older apartment-like structures it’s not uncommon for some residents at both sites to keep windows open during the winter months due to excessive and uncontrolled heat flowing into one end of the service line while occupants in buildings a few blocks away get less heat output and are uncomfortably cool at times.
Gaeta says there will be a significant educational component to the project that will instruct residents on how conserve energy to help relieve the utility burden even more. Furthermore, this project will reduce the carbon footprint of the Authority by reducing CO2 emissions by 1,600 tons.
Ameresco, Inc. is North America’s largest independent energy services company. With headquarters in Framingham, Massachusetts, the company is a single-source provider of comprehensive energy solutions. For more information, click on www.ameresco.com.