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Malden plugs away at energy conservation

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Malden was designated a Green Community by the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources in 2017. Since then, Malden has received $616,590 in Green Communities Grants, allowing the city to significantly conserve energy, save money and reduce its carbon emissions. The Massachusetts Green Communities program helps communities across the Commonwealth conserve energy and reduce greenhouse gas-producing fossil fuel use while saving energy costs for the municipalities.

In January 2023, Malden received a fourth Green Communities grant of $139,275. Together, the eight projects in this year’s grant offer an estimated annual savings of $22,400 in energy costs and an estimated annual reduction of 57 tons of greenhouse gas emissions. This year’s Green Communities grant projects focused on electrification, insulation and energy efficiency.

As the City of Malden repurposes the Pearl Street Fire Station to office space for city departments, it was able to use the Green Communities grant to insulate the roofline and attic and to add air source heat pumps as the primary source of heating and cooling for the building. This will make the building much more comfortable for the future occupants and will greatly reduce energy use.

Malden also used the grant funds to install air source heat pumps at the District 3 Fire Station to become the primary source of heating and cooling in the office and common areas as well as the captain’s quarters. Heat pumps are also being installed at the Department of Public Works Water Department’s Office at 365 Commercial St. Previously, the contained office space was heated by the boiler system used to heat the entire facility. With the heat pumps installed, not only can the office space be heated as needed separately from the garage areas, but also cooled more efficiently than with the window-unit air conditioners, which were reaching the end of their useful life. The transition to heat pumps in a properly insulated area not only provides energy-efficient heating and cooling and reduces use of fossil fuels by switching to electricity; as a bonus, the heat pumps will provide more comfortable spaces in which to work. As cleaner, renewable-produced electricity is added to the energy grid, that helps reduce greenhouse gas production that contributes to climate change.

In addition to electrification of heating and cooling systems, Malden is using its Green Communities grant to do insulation and sealing work. At the Department of Public Works, the garage bay doors have been repaired and resealed. Over the years, the doors have seen wear and tear that created significant gaps – allowing cold air infiltration and heat loss during the colder months. The City of Malden was also able to fully insulate the old Cemetery House and expects to save over 900 gallons of heating oil annually with this project.

Some of Malden’s schools have also received attention – with three projects – through this grant. The Salemwood K-8 and the Malden High School kitchens had new high-efficiency motors and fans installed in the walk-in refrigerators and freezers, replacing aging, original equipment. In addition, the Malden High swimming pool circulation motor received a “variable frequency drive” that will allow the motor to be activated more on an “as-needed” basis rather than running constantly. These three projects will reduce electricity consumption annually by an estimated $9,300.

With a combination of Green Communities grants, implementation of a $7.6 million Energy Services Company (ESCO) with Honeywell putting LEDs in every building, and the focus of its leadership, the City of Malden successfully achieved a 30% reduction in energy use in FY20 compared to its baseline in 2016. With the completion of these projects, Malden will be eligible to apply for a Green Communities Grant for 2024, continuing to maintain achievement of the City’s goal of 20% reduction in energy use since its 2017 designation as a Green Community by the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources. The City’s leadership remains dedicated to building on these successes with more positive and aggressive reduction of energy consumption.

“I’m grateful to Public Facilities Director and acting Energy Manager for the City, Eric Rubin. Together with our Energy Efficiency & Sustainability Commission we have committed to making our City more sustainable,” said Mayor Gary Christenson. “From the implementation of electric vehicles to electrifying our buildings, Malden is taking steps to reduce our carbon footprint which is an absolute priority.”

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