MEC – LED’s, Library, & Thermal Imaging


Medfield Energy Committee Meeting Minutes

7:30 p.m., November 30, 2011, Medfield Town Hall

Present: Marie Zack –Nolan, Cynthia Greene, Penny Connor, Charles Kellner, Fred Davis, Emre Schveighoffer, and Michael Sullivan. Also present were Library Trustee Lauren Feeney, Library Director Deborah Kelsey, and Selectmen Ann Thompson and Osler Peterson.

Chairman Nolan called the meeting to order at 7:35 p.m. The minutes of the October 28, 2011 meeting were approved, unanimously.

LED Streetlights

Davis gave an update on the Street-lighting Roundtable. It appears that many are waiting for a LED tariff to be established. NSTAR has a more flexible tariff but it cannot establish and LED street-lighting rate until the Dept of Energy Resources (DOER) has established a separate rate category. The MAPC is attempting to put together a bid specification on LED lighting purchase and installation for cities and towns. What was thought to be a relatively simple procedure has turned out to be much more complicated, in part because of the lack of an LED rate. Sullivan felt that part of the problem in putting together a set of specifications was that the MAPC was asking each city and town to list what types of lights, fixtures, etc that it wanted and then the MAPC would combine those into an aggregate list. Davis had thought that MAPC would bid out the lights and work based on its own recommendations and let the cities and towns decide what they wanted to purchase from that list. Davis also reported that the price of LED lights had fallen considerably, but that it still had a long way to go before cities and towns could justify purchasing such lights, based on the time it takes to recover the capital costs. The problems of reliability, declining lumen levels, and color quality were being addressed and in a relatively short period of time, LED lights might be a cost effective alternative to high pressure sodium lights. Davis passed out copies of an Update on LED Streetlighting, with an Appendix Material Luminaire Type “A” specification and an inventory of street lighting fixtures. (Copy attached). Connor showed committee members a sample LED luminaire, which she had brought to the meeting and agreed that the lack of a rate for LED lights was a problem, especially, since street lights are not metered for energy consumption. She also noted that at the current price of LED luminaires and with the low cost of natural gas generated electricity, the payback period for LED lighting conversions would be relatively long. It was generally agreed that LED lighting had come a long way, but that it still had further to go before it would be an attractive alternative to current street lighting installations.  The Committee will continue discussion on LED lighting at future meetings.

Library Energy Audit

Chairman Nolan recognized Library Trustee Lauren Feeney and Library Director Deborah Kelsey, whom she had invited to attend to discuss how the Energy Committee could assist the library in addressing its energy consumption issues. The Committee at an earlier meeting had agreed to work on the library, which seemed to have had a large increase in energy usage during the past year.  Kelsey gave a presentation on the library, pointing out that when she reviewed the library’s electrical consumption, she noted that there was a substantial increase in consumption over the past year, but when she examined it closely, she determined that the increase was attributable to the replacement of several of the rooftop HVAC units, which had been out of service for some time. When the units were replaced and put into service, the energy consumption increased considerably. However, while the units were out of service, much of the library had been extremely hot and she had received numerous complaints from library patrons and employees. She also noted that the library, particularly, the old section was not very energy efficient. The old wooden-framed windows and doors, the high ceilings and the lack of insulation, made it difficult to reduce energy usage. She also mentioned that the lights operated on a single circuit, which made it impossible to  keep just one light on in a room, when it was not in use; that the high ceilings made lighting at desk levels difficult; and that the library had been designed for the use of task lighting, which had never been installed. She also pointed out problems with the dual heating system; i.e. the old boiler in the basement and the rooftop HVAC units.  She had reorganized the library, rearranging shelving, reducing shelving heights and reorganized aisles to better disperse light along the floor. A couple of years ago, she and the Trustees had looked at installing LED lighting, but determined , that it was not yet effective enough for the library’s needs and dropped the idea. Feeney distributed charts that she had prepared on energy consumption, which showed that while the library’s electrical use had, indeed, risen in recent years, gas consumption had been relatively steady, adjusting for annual temperature variations. Davis thought that for what the Trustees had, in terms of facilities, it was fairly efficient, and not easy to change. He suggested that perhaps they could reduce the overhead lighting and replace it with task lighting Schveighoffer asked if they had looked at other libraries for ideas. Kelsey replied that they had, but to some extent, every library was different and had a unique set of issues and operating goals. Nolan observed that when new libraries or other buildings were constructed, it was common practice to hire lighting consultants to advise on appropriate lighting for the circumstances.  Davis said that you can get lighting done by a lighting designer/engineer and he/she will stamp the plan, but most go with the lighting supplier’s suggestions. Greene questioned that, if in the original library plans there was supposed to be task lighting, where was it supposed to go. Kelsey thought that it was supposed to be for the arch space at the back of the reference room and in the periodical room, but noted that since the original plans, much of the library layout had been changed and what was specified then, would no longer work. Davis thought that coming up with a lighting plan, including task lighting, was not that difficult. Schweighoffer said that he had a lighting engineer at his business and maybe he could have him look at it. Greene said that painting the surfaces with a reflective paint could help improve light levels. Davis thought that reflective pain would degrade quickly from the effects of high wattage lens. The committee discussed the possibility of replacing the pendent lights in the reference and periodical rooms and agreed that, considering the labor cost, it would be better to do them all at once, although such lights could be very expensive, costing as much as $1,500 or $1,600 per fixture. A lighting plan could also provide for appropriate locations for task lighting. Connor noted that NSTAR had contributed $3,200 towards the cost of a lighting audit in 2009 and that the cost of upgrading the lighting at that time was so significant and the payback period was so long, that nothing was done at that time.  She felt that what the Library Director and Trustees were looking at was more that a one-for-one replacement of lighting fixtures. She felt what was needed was an overall lighting plan to improve the functioning of the library, which was not necessarily going to lower the lighting energy consumption, but could be justified, as a necessary improvement for patrons and staff.  She thought an ASRE(?) level 2 audits would be best to look at different types of lighting fixtures for the library. She felt that NSTAR might be able to assist with such an audit. It was agreed that Davis, Schveighoffer and Connor would work with Kelsey and Feeney on this.

Kelsey also discussed the complex heating and cooling systems in the library, with the old boiler in the basement and eight rooftop HVAC units on the roof. She observed that it was very complex, can’t yet be mapped, and needs people who know about these systems to evaluate their operations.  For example, last year, half of the rooftop units were not working and this may have caused the energy fluctuations. She thought that among other things, the library should look at standardizing thermostats with ones that can be programmed, as needed, for each space. She also wants to get rid of the book drop, which causes cold air to enter the building and to make more of the windows operable, but safe, with the use of window stops and/or safety bars. The old front doors and windows in the old section of the building leak. The light- filtering shades she has installed help, somewhat, to reduce air and light infiltration. Ductwork in some of the areas used by the staff for materials preparation are inadequate, leaving staff to work in either cold or hot conditions and she would also like to add ductwork in the stack areas.  Schveighoffer mentioned a different type of heating system, which would be expensive, but might address some of these problems. He had suggested it for the Pfaff Center and estimated the cost at $80,000 to $100,000.

It was decided that Connor would have Steve D’Giacomo from NSTAR come out and do a lighting audit and it would be done on a 50/50 cost sharing basis. She will coordinate with Davis and Schweighoffer and they will report back to the Committee on recommended changes, costs, timetables, and financing.

Sagewell Mass Thermal Energy

Davis updated the Committee on the thermal energy photography project. He noted that the Committee had voted to endorse the project at the last meeting and to recommend it to the Board of Selectmen.  Sullivan mentioned that that vote was subject to addressing the concerns of Lee Alinsky relative to the lack of local contractors on the approved list and the concerns of Fred Bunger about homeowner’s privacy concerns. Davis said that those concerns had been addressed and therefore, he would like to go before the Board of Selectmen and ask for their endorsement.  Sullivan will schedule him for next Tuesday’s Selectmen’s meeting and call with a time. Davis asked that a letter be sent to the Dept of Energy Resources asking that Medfield be included in its thermal energy program and that a letter be sent to Sagewell indicating that the Board of Selectmen endorse the program (See attached memo from Davis). David Temple had agreed to work with Davis on drafting of a letter to be sent to residents giving information about the program. Nolan asked when the postcards would go out. Davis said that Sagewell would like to do the drive-by in late January, when the thermal difference between the outside and inside air was around its maximum. There was some concern expressed about getting information out to townspeople, informing them of the program details. Davis will also work with Medfield Green on arranging a time, place and agenda for a public presentation on the program. Greene asked that information on what is good insulation be included in any publicity, noting her concerns about recent health issues arising from the use of isocyanide insulation products.  She also noted that there will be an upcoming webinar on various insulating techniques. She will send out information on this when it becomes available.

Next Meeting

The chairman scheduled the next meeting for Thursday, January 12, 2012 at the Town Hall. The meeting was adjourned at 9:15 p.m.

Respectfully submitted, Michael Sullivan



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