Montgomery County passes local law aimed at energy efficiency in buildings

FONDA — A local law establishing energy benchmark requirements for certain county-owned municipal buildings was passed Tuesday night by the Montgomery County Legislature.

The resolution will require a yearly report of total energy consumed by each covered municipal building. Through the recording and tracking of energy use over time, the benchmark will show the buildings’ current operational involvement and any savings that can be done through energy-efficient upgrades. A part of the local law will compare energy performance to similar buildings.

“It’s an efficiency thing,” Roy Dimond, chairman of the legislature said. “They’ll go around an appraise the building and make suggestions on what, if anything, we could do to make the buildings more efficient.”

By comparing the energy performance and use, the county is able to make smarter, more cost-effective operational and capital investment decisions, reward efficiency and drive widespread and continuous improvement. Adopting the local law will have no financial impact.

Any building or facility that is 1,000 square feet or larger and is owned or occupied by the county of Montgomery falls under the category of a covered municipal building.

The director, or head of the department of Economic Development and Planning will be responsible to enter the total energy consumed by each municipal building, along with a description of the building, and file it in the ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager, an internet-based tool developed and maintained by the United States Environmental Protection Agency. According to the Energy Star website, the Portfolio Manager was created as tool used to measure and track energy and water consumption as well as greenhouse gas emissions. Through the portfolio, the buildings energy use to compare energy use against similar existing buildings.

“We’ve never had anything in place before this so we are looking forward to it,” Dimond said. “We did have the Smart program a few years ago, which updated the county courthouse and some windows, but this will do the rest of it.”

In June 2016 the county passed a resolution adopting the New York State Climate Smart Communities Pledge. The pledge is comprised of ten elements, and was adopted in order to reduce greenhouse gas emission and adapt to a changing climate.

The resolution states the county believes climate changes poses a real and increasing threat to local and global environments, and wishes to respond in such a way to save money and build an energy independent and safe economy.

The recent local law addressed two of the pledge elements; decreasing community energy use and informing and inspiring the public

According to the resolution, Montgomery County recognizes the issues associated with the pledge and is looking to achieve new energy visions and reward communities to take part through funding opportunities and grants.

Buildings are the single largest user of energy in New York. The poorest performing buildings typically use several times the energy of the highest performing building for the exact same building use.

The local law will use the building energy benchmark to promote the public health, safety and welfare.

Collecting and reporting the benchmark data on a regular basis allows municipal officials and the public to understand energy performance of buildings in the local community and compare to similar buildings nationwide.

“It’s cost effective and this goes along with our capital project plan,” Dimond said.

Opal Jessica Bogdan can be reached at [email protected]

By Chad Fleck

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