Connecticut Green

UI Assists in Energy Upgrades

Pat McDonnell

Pat McDonnell

by Patrick McDonnell

Within the past few years, the town of Stratford, Conn., proactively sought opportunities to reduce overall energy consumption and operating budget of town buildings. The replacement of old or malfunctioning equipment such as water heaters and HVAC systems in the town hall, public works, and various school buildings, coupled with lighting retrofits and energy management system upgrades, helped the town achieve approximately $496,625 in energy and gas savings annually.

With this positive past experience as a guide, the town approached recent new construction projects with an eye on energy-efficient design and operations. Stratford again turned to its local utility, The United Illuminating Company (UI), to assist with planning and technical guidance as well as identifying potential financial resources.

As part of the Energize Connecticut initiative, UI helped the town develop a plan of action for the construction of Victoria Soto Elementary School. Project design of the new 36,000sf, K-2 magnet elementary school incorporated energy efficiency in lighting systems, air conditioning, and HVAC systems. Detail was also paid to the building envelope to address efficient weather-stripping, door-sealing, and caulking.

Stratford was able to utilize the Energy Conscious Blueprint program — a program under the Energize Connecticut umbrella that provides incentives for higher efficiency equipment and systems in new construction.

As part of that forward-thinking efficiency plan, a cool roof was installed over the air-conditioned spaces of the school. Designed to reflect more sunlight and absorb less heat than a standard roof, the cool roof provides sufficient insulation and reflectance to increase savings on energy and costs. The efficient HVAC systems incorporated have variable frequency drives and variable refrigerant flow, which provide efficient cooling throughout the entire space. The systems will deliver significant energy savings, estimated to save about $2,300 annually compared to conventional units.

Additionally, interior lighting systems incorporate daylight dimming fixtures in the classrooms, and photocell controls in the gym and the corridors. Utilizing these more-advanced and efficient systems, combined with the LED lighting fixtures installed outside of the building and in the parking lot, will save the town approximately $12,000 annually over standard efficiency equipment.

“Efficiency is a goal in all that we do — we worked to tie in measures at the school with those we are familiar with and have in place in all of the other town buildings,” said Raynae Serra, operations coordinator for the Stratford Public Works Department. “Beyond reducing our footprint, we’re also focused and have implemented many cost-saving measures that have reduced our operating costs, which ultimately benefit the taxpayers. Everyone should be moving in this direction; there are a lot of savings to be achieved through energy-efficient equipment, design, and operations.”

Victoria Soto Elementary School, which opened in September 2015, serves as a great example of efficient school construction. And, Stratford continues to seek new opportunities to utilize efficiency programs. Another recent initiative supported by the Energy Conscious Blueprint program helped the town’s fire department to upgrade HVAC equipment. New AC units, controls, and variable frequency drives for the air-handling equipment will deliver approximately $7,000 in savings for the town on annual energy costs. In the town of Stratford, as with any municipality, operating costs are a key consideration when designing a new building or purchasing new equipment.

Energize Connecticut programs are part of an initiative of the Energy Efficiency Fund, the Connecticut Green Bank, the state, and your local electric and gas utilities with funding from a charge on customer energy bills. Information on energy efficiency programs can be found at or by calling 1.877.WISE.USE.

Patrick McDonnell is senior director conservation and load management at The United Illuminating Company.