Town Efficiency Update: Police Department

picture of the Police Department building

The Town of Bennington Police Department Efficiency Upgrades Reap Rewards!

In order to increase efficiency, reduce our carbon footprint, and save money, the Town Assistant Facilities and Buildings Director Mark Sawyer and the Town Energy Committee (created in 2019) has been working on implementing improvements to buildings, facilities, vehicles, and equipment throughout our community.

One project now completed is the Bennington Police Department. This impressive classic revival marble building was first built in 1913 and served as the Post Office until 1967 when it became the Federal Building until 1996. The town took ownership in 1997 when it became the home of the Police Department.

Starting in 2018, numerous improvement to the building began to be made in coordination with Efficiency Vermont and Green Mountain Power. Initial rounds of work included replacing all incandescent bulbs with LED lighting, improving insulation, and the installation of energy recovery ventilation systems and heat pumps. These efforts yielded impressive results; $5,400 in savings the first year while reducing carbon emissions by 31,500 pounds. The cost for those improvements was $15,600 of which incentives and credits covered $8,080 for a net cost of just $7,520.

In 2015, a far bigger improvement was being considered… the heating and cooling system existing in the building was old and needed replacement in any case. In 2018 an engineering study was commissioned to completely re-envision the systems at the police station to maximize current technologies and best practices to make the new system as energy efficient as possible. That work that began in 2018 was completed in January of 2020.

The result was a $440,000 new installation of the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system which was paid for using accumulated capital reserves that had been built up in expectation of this type of use. No new taxes or costs were incurred by taxpayers from this work. The new system dramatically improved efficiency and yielded over $19,800 in savings per year, while reducing our carbon emissions by a whopping 50,000 pounds per year.

All told, a total of 81,500 pounds of CO2 is being saved per year — this is the same amount of CO2 sequestered by 45.3 acres of forest. Overall costs for electricity and propane in 2020 are now half of what they cost in 2018. “Plus, these savings will be even greater given the current spike in fossil fuel costs” notes Energy Committee chair Bill Karis, “ and as we move more towards electricity and away from fuels, there is ultimately less volatility in pricing.”

With building improvements now completed, the effort to switch the vehicle fleet to hybrid electric models is beginning. This past October, Chief Doucette and the Police Department was honored with an Community Environmental Achievement Award from the Climate Advocates Bennington group to recognize their environmental leadership with the purchase of their first two hybrid vehicles and two electric bikes.