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State to Invest $27M to Make UMass Lowell More Energy-efficient

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LOWELL — The state has committed to spend $27 million on a two-year project to make UMass Lowell more energy-efficient, it was announced Wednesday.

The work will involve 32 campus buildings and includes replacement of 26 boilers with heating equipment that runs on natural gas, upgrades of lighting at the Tsongas Center, and replacement or retrofit of nearly 2,500 lighting systems with LED and compact fluorescent alternatives.

The financing includes MassSave incentives from National Grid valued at more than $2.5 million, a $100,000 solar thermal grant from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection and other sources, including state bonds available through the Clean Energy Investment Program.

Work at the 17,000 student campus is expected to start this summer. When it's finished  the university’s energy costs are expected to be reduced by an estimated $1.26 million annually.

The project is being done under the state's Accelerated Energy Program (AEP) which was launched in 2012 to accelerate the implementation of energy and water conservation projects at hundreds of sites across Massachusetts.

“We are at the forefront of investment in energy conservation among public universities...," said UMass Lowell Chancellor Marty Meehan, adding that the project represents the largest step forward in "achieving carbon neutrality on campus by 2050.”

“By implementing energy efficiency and solar energy improvements at UMass Lowell, the Baker-Polito Administration is following through on its commitment to invest in clean energy,” said Matthew Beaton, secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs. “These measures will significantly reduce UMass Lowell’s carbon footprint and greenhouse gas emissions as well as energy costs.”

The changes will also include upgrades to occupancy and comfort controls for lighting and heating systems, the addition of more than 630 low-flow faucets, showerheads and toilets, installation of a 200-kilowatt solar photo-voltaic carport on the South Campus Garage with electric vehicle charging stations, and installation of solar thermal systems at the UMass Lowell Inn & Conference Center and the UMass Lowell Bellegarde Boathouse.

The announcement was made during the university's Earth Day Sustainability Festival.