Berkshire County Jail and House of Correction energy upgrade expected to save thousands


Photo Gallery | Berkshire County House of Correction Energy Improvements

PITTSFIELD -- A comprehensive energy-efficiency upgrade at the Berkshire County Jail & House of Correction is expected to slash utility bills by more than half and cover the installation costs over a 10-year payback period.

"This is great -- it's great," said Thomas Mazzeo, director of facilities at the 160,000-square-foot facility off Cheshire Road. "This is a building that is 13 years old, and it is in use 24/7. With this project, it will be like having a new building."

The $3.5 million project is expected to result in a 61 percent reduction in energy costs and an annual savings of $365,000, according to Meghan Kelly, spokeswoman for the state Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance. The upgrades will eliminate the need for approximately 1.4 million kilowatts of electricity -- reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the facility by 1,178 metric tons annually.

The work, under general contractor Millennium Builders Inc., includes installation of five new boiler units, replacing two larger, less efficient units, Mazzeo said. Two of the new boilers will supply hot water, two others will supply heat and one can alternate between the two as needed, he said.

The project also includes a solar pre-heating system for hot water and a 300-kilowatt solar photovoltaic field to produce electricity to lower the overall bill for the facility.

In addition, fixtures will be retrofitted with more efficient LED lighting, which use up to 75 percent less electricity while providing the same amount of light. And there will be upgrades for fan and equipment motors to more-efficient units and other energy-saving improvements, Mazzeo said.

The savings are expected to fully cover the project costs over 10 years.

Kelly said DCAMM is working with the Berkshire County Sheriff's Office on the project, which is being undertaken through the Patrick administration's Accelerated Energy Program. The estimated completion date of the project, which reached the construction stage in the spring, is early 2015, she said.

Mazzeo and Sheriff Thomas Bowler said energy efficiency has been a priority since shortly after Bowler took office in 2011. He said the current project grew from a request from a property owner near the facility who asked about cooperating on a solar facility to produce electricity.

When he contacted DCAMM officials about the idea, Bowler said, "They said, ‘We are willing to work with you on a new project at your facility.' "

Patrick announced the financing program in 2010, saying it would provide a mechanism to launch energy efficiency and renewable energy projects at dozens of state buildings. Projects under the program are expected to provide enough energy savings to offset repayment of low-interest bonds to fund the installations and related construction work.

The project also received a state grant for about $190,000 toward the solar thermal installation and energy savings rebates from utilities, the officials said.

To reach Jim Therrien:,
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