Managing Energy Use in the Nantucket Municipal System

Sponsor: Town of Nantucket Energy Office
Sponsor Liaison: Lauren Sinatra, Energy Coordinator
Student Team: Melissa Dery, Lydia George, Ryan McKenna, Nicholas Rice
Abstract: This project aimed to assist the Nantucket Energy Office in promoting responsible energy use and management in municipal facilities, through use of the MassEnergyInsight (MEI) toolkit and a survey assessment of employee conservation awareness. MassEnergyInsight generates reports on energy consumption in municipal facilities, which can supplement the materials of the SEE the Light energy conservation education toolkit. Continued maintenance of the MassEnergyInsight toolkit, and quarterly distribution of the generated reports, is recommended to improve monitoring, communication, and education of municipal energy use to employees.
Link: MEI_Nantucket_B13_IQP

Executive Summary

The purpose of this project was to assist the Nantucket Energy Office in promoting responsible energy usage on the island of Nantucket by tracking and measuring the energy consumption trends of Town departments. With the help of the MassEnergyInsight (MEI) municipal energy management software tool, our team analyzed liquid fuel and electricity consumption trends in municipal facilities, identified instances of efficiency and inefficiency, and generated reports, graphs, and other visuals that can be used to inform municipal employees about their energy use. Surveys were distributed to assess town employees’ attitudes towards energy conservation. Our team made recommendations to the Nantucket Energy Office on how to most effectively promote efficient energy use within municipal facilities.

The scope of this project initially extended only to the municipal system and its employees. However, the project developed to benefit the community of Nantucket by promoting energy management efforts in the municipal system to support a broader sustainable energy consumption paradigm for the island, to prevent a foreseeable need for infrastructure expansion. The structure of background research, proposed methodology, and deliverables, as outlined in Figure A, allowed us to assist the Nantucket Energy Office. Through the decoration of a Christmas tree with energy saving tips we created our first energy educational visuals. This tree was located outside of the Nantucket Energy Office and was viewed by town residents during Christmas stroll.


Figure A: Outline of Objectives and Deliverables

The Nantucket Energy Office and Nantucket Memorial Airport had previously secured use of the MEI toolkit, available for free to all Massachusetts municipalities through the Department of Energy and Resources, in late 2012. However, much of the user-defined data within the software was either out of date or disorganized. Following initial research, we had learned how to use the MEI tool, which called for the acquisition of accurate information on utility accounts and facility identification, accomplished through site visits to many town-owned buildings, and reconciliation of Town financial records, National Grid bills, Harbor fuel, and Yates Gas invoices. With the updated toolkit we generated reports, such as that seen in Figure B, showing energy consumption over varying periods of time for buildings, complexes, and the entire municipal system.


Figure B: MEI report of monthly consumption, with highlighted deviation from baseline trend

In order to assess employees’ attitudes towards energy conservation in the work place, our team distributed a survey, designed to study employees’ perception of accountability for managing energy, the awareness of town employees towards energy costs and payment, daily energy use routines at work compared to home, and the employees’ awareness of the Nantucket Energy Office’s current conservation efforts and programs. Questions about possible incentives and contests were included to determine effective ways to promote and sustain more conscientious energy usage in the municipal system.

Based on the survey results, municipal employees are generally conscientious of their energy usage in facilities, but room for improvement on an individual basis remains. There exists a need to make current energy initiatives, such as promotion of the Mass Save residential incentive program, more visible to employees. Survey respondents also expressed a desire for visible reminders of energy efficient methods in the work place, and the need for energy conservation education. The town had previously procured use of the SEE the Light Toolkit, which contains materials and plans to educate and motivate employees to promote energy conservation in the work place. A focal point of SEE the Light is incentivizing employees’ conservation efforts. Although material rewards are suggested by the toolkit, survey results indicated that Town employees would be most motivated if they could clearly see the positive impact made through their conservation efforts. vi

Deployment of an employee education plan, including education for current employees, new employees (as part of Human Resources orientation), and continued education, is a logical starting point to promote conservation efforts. A primary means of continued education and information is through distribution of a quarterly newsletter to town employees, containing monthly usage reports specific to each building, seasonal conservation tips, and any Energy Office news such as the availability of upcoming free energy audits for Nantucket residents. Furthermore, placement of stickers, posters, and informational tools, such as thermometers provided by SEE the Light, around town facilities, and the appointment of “Energy Champions” in each facility, defined as volunteers whom assist in promoting the goals of conservation and efficiency on a daily basis with specific knowledge of their building’s infrastructure, serve to provide employees with positive reminders to remain conscious of their usage habits.

Survey responses support the proposal of discrete monitoring and budgeting of energy use for Town departments. By making departments individually responsible for payment and management of energy bills, as opposed to the current system of centralized budgeting and payment by the Town finance department, conservation is motivated through increasing awareness of energy expenses, and allowing any savings made through conservation to be utilized within the department, thus directly benefitting the employees who made the savings possible. Implementing sub-meters on accounts serving multiple departments in different buildings, such as the meter serving the Town hall and outlying buildings, would be vital to measuring and managing energy consumption by each department, and allow the Energy Office to monitor the energy usage of individual facilities to better pinpoint sites of efficient and inefficient usage.

Nantucket could benefit from National Grid’s Deep Energy Retrofit (DER) Pilot Program to meet the municipal system’s needs while managing its energy usage. Participation in this program would allow the Town to tailor existing programs to meet Nantucket’s unique needs, and provide access to grants and incentives that would otherwise only be made available to Green Communities. For example, no incentives currently exist for weatherization in municipalities, as the majority of Town facilities in mainland communities are designed as large commercial structures, in which weatherization does not prove effective. However, many of Nantucket’s municipal buildings are converted residential structures, which could benefit greatly from weatherization, such as that provided for residential consumers under the Mass Save program. Appropriate local candidates for such a program are 37 Washington Street (Finance office), 3 East Chestnut Street (NRTA Office), and 16 Broad Street (Town Hall).

Our team is leaving the Town of Nantucket with a foundation for continued energy management that can be implemented throughout the municipal system. By implementing the SEE the Light Toolkit in Town facilities, municipal employees will have access to educational resources that will help increase their awareness of day to day energy usage and methods of conservation. Maintaining the MEI database with accurate and up-to-date account information will allow for continued reporting of energy consumption at all municipal levels, and provide graphical resources for newsletter communications from the Energy office to municipal employees.