Paul Piraino thrives on finding ways to trim utility energy costs – whether by reducing demand or using renewable sources like solar power.
“Conservation is what drives me,” says Piraino, energy and sustainability manager in the Office of Facilities Management and Planning. “Reducing greenhouse gases is doing good for the planet.”
Since coming to UMass Lowell in July 2011, Piraino has spearheaded campus energy efficiency efforts and is coordinating the University’s Climate Action Plan, which addresses climate change through research, education and outreach and commits the campus to carbon neutrality by 2050.
Piraino recently was lauded for his work by the state’s Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs with a Leading by Example Award. He was one of 10 honorees from around the state to receive the award at a State House ceremony. State officials cited Piraino’s initiation of energy efficiency efforts including upgrades to building controls and HVAC systems as well as his role in forging a net metering agreement with Westford Solar, a pact that will result in significant energy savings for the University.
“Paul’s leadership and enthusiasm have put UMass Lowell in the forefront” of sustainable energy initiatives, says Thomas Dreyer
, associate vice chancellor for facilities management. “He is exuberant.”
According to Dreyer, since energy conservation measures were introduced in 2010, the University is saving approximately $2.4 million annually in energy costs, or about $204 for each full-time student.
In addition to overseeing the University’s $9 million utility budget, Piraino is working on the development of campus sustainability standards.
“I am looking for continuous improvements in energy efficiency and in reducing the greenhouse gas footprint of the campus,” he says. “We have a great team in place here involving faculty, staff and students. We are constantly moving forward on sustainability.”
Piraino previously held positions in energy and engineering management in the pharmaceutical industry. He is UMass Lowell’s first energy and sustainability manager, a position he says is a perfect fit, given his professional background and his passion for energy conservation and reducing dependency on foreign fuel sources.
“This was like getting a dream job,” he says.