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National Grid, City and University Announce Energy Contest Winners

Two Lowell Homes with Least Energy Consumption Selected

Energy contest winner Bonna Sam Mai, center, receives a $25,000 check from Lowell City Mayor Bud Caulfield, left, and City Manager Bernie Lynch.

By Edwin L. Aguirre

The winners of the “Getting to Zero Energy Challenge,” a competition sponsored by National Grid and the City of Lowell, in partnership with UMass Lowell, were presented at a ceremony held at Lowell City Hall on Sept. 29.

The contest, which also received support from Advanced Building Analysis and the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources, aimed to help local property owners get their homes as close to zero net-energy consumption as possible.

Lowell residents Bonna Sam Mai and David and Sharon Logvin each received a $25,000 rebate from National Grid for having the most energy-efficient homes. Mai’s residential building on Wilder Street qualified under the low- to medium-income category, while the Logvins' home on Starbird Street qualified under the unrestricted-income category.

The checks were presented by Mayor Edward “Bud” Caulfield and City Manager Bernie Lynch. Other attendees included Aaron Clausen of Lowell’s Division of Planning and Development, Jerry Hanna of National Grid and Larry Masland of the Department of Energy Resources, as well as Profs. Sammy Shina and John Duffy of UMass Lowell’s Mechanical Engineering Department and students Timothy Matook and Roger Gyebi.

In preparation for the contest, Shina organized two training sessions for 11 mechanical engineering students on the basics of zero net-energy homes. National Grid donated $10,000 for the training, which was conducted by the Building Science Corp., a leading zero-energy consulting firm in Westford. Eight of the seniors - Ashton DePasquale, Matthew Durette, Eric Favini, Roger Gyebi, Nic Anderson, Jonathan Hillman, Timothy Matook and Aleczander Stith - served as volunteers for the contest while the remaining three - Henry Jamijian, Glenn Ratcliffe and Than Quang-Vinh - served as alternates. 

Duffy, who coordinates the University’s solar engineering graduate program, led the students in two senior capstone teams to assist contest applicants in developing detailed design proposals for the final phase of the selection.

Mai’s home is a three-story, three-unit residential building built in 1923. It had a Home Energy Rating System (HERS) index of 107 before the energy-saving enhancements. The HERS index is used to determine if a dwelling is rated an Energy Star home (85 HERS); as a reference, homes built to the current energy code are about 100 HERS.

By retrofitting Mai’s home with better insulation and more energy-efficient doors, windows, lighting, appliances and heating/cooling systems, the team was able to bring down its HERS index to 86. This will result in energy savings of nearly $87,000 over 30 years and reduction of carbon dioxide emissions by about 7 tons per year.

The Logvins’ home, a two-story single family residence constructed in 1919, had an original HERS index of 114 before it was brought down to 55. They, too, will realize savings of nearly $87,000 in energy bills in three decades and reduce roughly 5 tons of carbon dioxide emissions a year. A three-kilowatt solar photovoltaic system will also be installed on the south-facing roof to provide a renewable source of energy.

“We all would like to divorce ourselves from using fossil fuels,” said Lynch. “We hope to continue this pioneering program year after year, and make Lowell a leader in green technology.”

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David and Sharon Logvin pose with their son and Mayor Bud Caulfield, left, and City Manager Bernie Lynch.