Friday, February 15, 2008

Intern hired as town sustainability coordinator

The Forecaster

By Linda Maule (published: February 14, 2008)

FALMOUTH – After working as an intern during her fall semester at the University of Southern Maine to assess what the town is doing to conserve energy, Barbara DiBiase has been hired on a part-time basis as the town’s sustainability coordinator.

DiBiase is studying environmental sustainability at USM and is active in the community group called Cool Falmouth.

Town Manager Nathan Poore asked her to continue in a part-time, 10-hour-a-week capacity. She began at the end of December. Her internship and work is a result of the Town Council signing the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement last spring.

DiBiase’s current goal and assignment is to continue working on an energy audit of the municipal building. She will pinpoint where most of the energy consumption is and identify how to decrease that consumption, she said.

She will begin by looking at what she called “low hanging fruit” before “looking at more structural things.”

Last fall, DiBiase, with help from Claudia King, who is also active in Cool Falmouth, interviewed department heads to find out and document what the town has done so far to become more energy efficient.

When the Police Department moves to its new building, renovations will be done at the current headquarters in the Town Hall annex to make that part of the building more energy efficient.

DiBiase said Doug Patey, in the fire department, has expertise in facilities management and has worked with her in assessing energy needs and efficiencies.

“Falmouth really is ahead of the curve” in energy efficiency, DiBiase said.

She will take the information from the audit and computer software program called ICLEI (International Council for Local Environmental Initiative) using the years 2002, 2005 and 2007. “When this data is compiled by the end of February, the software will spit out recommendations,” she said, using information about what towns of similar size around the country and world have done.

She is also using another software program called Energy Star Portfolio Manager, which rates buildings by energy use. Based on a high of 100, DiBiase is working toward Falmouth’s buildings being between 75 and 80 in efficiency.

Efficiency Maine, a division of the Public Utilities Commission, she said, will do walk-through audits of both the Town Hall and the public works building in the near future.

Also, using Patey’s expertise, DiBiase said, the Winn Road Fire Station will be assessed for energy efficiency. She thinks that building will need new insulation or siding since it hasn’t had any upgrades in years. “There has been a lot of deferred maintenance,” she said, adding that “once we are finished, the energy savings will be very high.”

While DiBiase is working with the town, King is working with the School Department to collect data for an ICLEI software assessment.

DiBiase thinks the timing is perfect since a town facilities committee is assessing how town buildings could be used. “We’ll have this information ready to go,” said DiBiase.

DiBiase recently made a list of all the actions the town has taken “to confront and contain global warming.” Among them are:

• School buses and municipal vehicles that were diesel powered now run on bio-fuel.

• School buses adhere to a “no idling” policy.

• Fire engines use LED (light-emitting diode) lights.

• A Ford Escape hybrid replaced a full-size SUV for code enforcement.

• A Toyota Prius hybrid replaced a Crown Victoria for general use and long distance travel.

• Newly renovated Central Fire Station has state-of-the-art, energy-efficient lighting.

• Energy Star appliances are used by all departments.

• Motion sensor lights were installed at Town Hall to save electricity.

• Electrical use at wastewater treatment plan was reduced because of recent upgrades.

• Recycling has increased at all town offices.

• Town Council began using paperless packets.

• LEED-certified police station will open.

Linda Maule can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 108 or

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