Salem: Energy Efficiency for East India Parking Garage


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New garage lights brighter, less costly

By DAVE GERSHMAN Salem News

SALEM -- Local environmentalists are applauding the city's move to replace all 391 lights in the East India Square parking garage with more energy-efficient fluorescent lights. The $96,438 cost of the project is being offset by $57,863 in rebates from Massachusetts Electric Co. The city's share of the tab will be $38,575. Because the new lights use 56 percent less electricity than the old fixtures, the city's electric bills will be lower and the lights will pay for themselves in less than two years.

"The city is making huge advantages in saving money in electricity and also at the same time being much more environmentally friendly," said Pat Gozemba, a Willows resident and member of Salem Alliance for the Environment. "If you're using less electricity, you're putting less greenhouse gas into the environment."

At the urging of SAFE, Mayor Stanley Usovicz and the City Council passed in September 2002 a resolution designating Salem as a "city for climate protection." Salem State College students Ben Walsh and Darryl Stafford, working with John Hayes, a faculty member in the college's geography department, performed an energy audit. They met with city electrician John Giardi and pinpointed the garage as a place where the city could get the most "bang for its buck," mayoral aide Tom Philbin said. SAFE raised $700 to buy a special software package to do the audit. "With the ongoing budget reductions at the state level, we have been looking for ways to reduce our operating costs," the mayor said. "SAFE has helped the city to do this while also reaching our common goal of protecting our environment. This shows what we can accomplish when we all work together."

Work to change the lights began last week. Giardi said the new fixtures are more durable than the old ones and will require less maintenance. They also come with a waterproof seal. In the last two years, the city has had to spend roughly $10,000 to replace faulty lights.

The new lights also produce more "white" light, making the garage brighter, city officials said. "Your eyes can see objects much more clearly," said Doug Wagner of the electric company, who negotiated the city's rebates.

"You can notice a difference," Parking Director Jim Hacker agreed.

Other projects are planned. Giardi is also replacing the bulbs in some traffic lights with more energy-efficient LED lights.

Salem Evening News November, 2003.

Pat Gozemba, Salem Alliance for the Environment Sep 26, 2006 at 10:55 AM
Salem, MA pgozemba@aol.com