By Julie Huss
---- — DERRY — One group in town continues a quest to help taxpayers save money on energy costs.
The Energy/Environmental Advisory Committee is going strong. Members hope the town will give them more opportunities to get involved in construction projects and other advisory jobs.
Maureen Reno, the committee’s chairman, told town councilors last week she wants to continue a relationship that includes giving the energy group more chances to be involved in building projects, town vehicle purchases, and other community outreach to help save energy costs.
“The committee’s mission is to promote energy conservation and energy efficiency while also exploring ways to reduce carbon emissions among the town’s residents, businesses and its municipal affairs,” Reno said.
Reno said the group is very well educated, made up of many different people with different talents in energy concepts and practices.
The energy group formed in 2009 and began its quest to work with the town to make changes and help save tax dollars, all in accordance with the town’s Clean Energy and Environmental Initiative.
That ordinance, adopted by the town in 2008, requires Derry to “give preference to alternative fuel and hybrid vehicles when purchasing or leasing a vehicle,” something Reno said her group supported.
The ordinance also states that new construction in town and all major renovations to existing structures, inside or out, must meet basic LEED certification standards.
Some projects in town have already followed those rules.
The town approved measures to put cost-saving measures into place at tiny Taylor library, including replacing storm windows, sealing leaks, insulation work and adding energy-efficient light bulbs — simple changes that keep the building cooler in summer and warmer during the winter.
Another historic building in town, Veterans Hall, also got major upgrades. The town used Energy Efficiency Community Block grant funding to give the 85-year-old building a major face-lift.
The building got exterior improvements, roof repairs, new energy-efficient windows and doors, and a more efficient boiler and radiant heat system.
Veterans Hall is using about 30 percent less energy following the renovations, Reno said.
“These are real savings,” she said.
The group also hosts a spring Solar Spring competition for local middle school students, and presents informational workshops and programs to teach residents about how to save energy in their homes.
Town Councilor Tom Cardon once headed up the energy group and said he was often frustrated that the town didn’t ask for more input when it came to energy issues.
“There were ongoing building projects that should have had some input from the energy committee,” he said. “There is no protocol as to when the Energy Environmental Advisory Committee would be involved. We always felt like we’re stepping on toes.”
Councilors hope to include the energy group in a future workshop to talk more about working together on town projects.
Reno said the group hopes to continue to work alongside the town on a more regular basis.
“We would like to continue working with town administrators and educating residents on their energy usage,” she said.