SHIRLEY -- Energy Advisory Committee Chairman Bryan Dumont walked away from the selectmen's meeting with several EAC projects in progress and a signed OK from the board to proceed to the next phase on one of them.

The board endorsed an "investment grade" audit agreement with ABM, a Woburn-based company now conducting preliminary energy audit reviews of all the municipal buildings on its list, plus the two school buildings in town.

Dumont explained that the EAC selected ABM from a field of 11 companies responding to the committee's request for proposals. Four finalists were interviewed, he said.

Currently, the process is at the "30-thousand square foot overview" stage, in which the contractor does the initial energy audits with an eye to making energy-saving changes, he said.

In the first phase, the work is minor and relatively inexpensive. Switching out old-fashioned light bulbs for lighting that lasts longer and costs less, such as LED, for example. Costlier items on the to-do list would come later and might include large-scale insulation and repairing or replacing major building components, such as HVAC systems.

Much of the initial work will be paid for from the remainder of a $153,000 state grant, Dumont told the board and there's plenty left for the purpose, he said. The grant came about as a result of the Green Community designation the EAC landed last year, with the blessing of the selectmen and Town Meeting.

The next step is the "investment grade audit," which leads to a performance contract, Dumont continued.


Sanctioned by state law under Chapter 25-A, performance contracts are win/wins for communities, he said, since the cost of recommended work the town agrees to and borrows to pay for would be reimbursed with energy savings. More than a promise, the binary is contractual.

If savings are less than estimated after the work is performed, the company -- in this case, ABM -- must cut the town a check for the difference, Dumont said. It all ties into the state's Green Communities plan, which mandates a 20-percent reduction in energy use over five years as one of its criteria.

In addition to the ongoing energy audits, Dumont said he EAC is moving forward with other projects, such as dousing some useless streetlights and upgrading others with energy-efficient replacements. Bulbs in all 14 decorative street lamps downtown, for example, more than half of which have been dark for some time, will get LED replacement fixtures, with estimated savings of $1,000 per year and more light in the bargain. One more component is on order and expected any day, with work to commence as soon as the weather allows.