SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

February 26, 2010

Governor announces $3.6M to make community college greener

By Ethan Forman

DANVERS — Gov. Deval Patrick provided "a teachable moment" yesterday about how green jobs can sprout from solar panels and energy-efficiency projects for students at North Shore Community College.

Patrick and members of his administration came here to announce the Commonwealth Clean Energy Investment Program, a new way the state plans to finance dozens of energy-efficient projects by using the savings from them to pay off the bonds for them.

To that end, Patrick announced a $3.6 million project to make the community college's Danvers and Lynn campuses more energy-efficient. The project is designed to create clean-energy jobs while leveraging $1.25 million in federal stimulus dollars.

The project involves the installation of solar panels on the Frederick Berry Building, named for Senate Majority Leader Fred Berry, D-Peabody.

In Lynn, the more-than-25-year-old campus will get new lighting and energy-management systems along with new chillers, boilers, and heating, ventilation and air-conditioning units. The project, which is expected to start in April, will provide about 30 jobs.

The improvements at both campuses are expected to save the college and the state $400,000 annually. North Shore Community College will be the clean-energy investment program's first beneficiary.

"What that means is people working in the kinds of green jobs we are talking about," Patrick said. "Full lighting retrofits, installing energy management systems and water conservation measures, putting in new insulation, setting up new rooftop air conditioning units. And when they are done, this college will have reduced energy use by 35 percent," Patrick said.

Patrick came to North Shore Community College, instead of to another state facility, for a reason.

"It's a teachable moment, there's no doubt about it," Patrick said later, in an interview. "It is really an opportunity to launch this at a community college because of the opportunity to show people who are coming into the work force the kinds of jobs we are talking about."

Patrick exhorted students to learn from the example his administration was setting on clean energy.

"Anybody who is wondering, anybody who is curious, anybody who is skeptical about what a 21st-century, energy-efficient campus looks like, I say, come right on over here to North Shore Community College," Patrick said.

"It's a good idea," said Deena Perates, 20, of Peabody, a paralegal student, when asked about the state's green initiatives. "I think it's going to be a little difficult, but why not, anything is worth trying."

Patrick yesterday was flanked by state Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Ian Bowles; the commissioner of the Division of Capital Asset Management, David Perini; North Shore Community College President Wayne Burton; state Sen. Marc Pacheco, D-Taunton, who is chairman of the Senate Committee on Global Warming and Climate Change; and state Rep. Ted Speliotis, D-Danvers.

"I am so excited about this initiative because it is a jobs initiative, this is an energy-efficiency initiative, but it is also a good budget initiative," Pacheco said. "It saves money for the taxpayers."

Separately, the state is building the commonwealth's first "zero net" energy building behind the Berry Building. The $32 million, 58,700-square-foot Health Professions and Student Services building is expected to save as much energy as it uses through geothermal heating and cooling, solar panels, and smart lighting controls when it opens in September 2011.

Bowles estimated energy-efficient projects of the type announced yesterday will create nine jobs for every $1 million spent, with more than 30 jobs created at North Shore Community College.

"Over the whole program, it's hundreds of jobs," Bowles said, referencing projects elsewhere in the state.

"These are real jobs, in the here and now," Patrick said.

Staff writer Ethan Forman can be reached at 978-338-2673 or by e-mail at eforman@salemnews.com.