CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Kirkland Cleaners, Cambridge, Mass., is reducing carbon emissions and utility consumption with the help of the Cambridge Energy Alliance (CEA) energy-efficiency program.
CEA gave Kirkland a free energy audit a year ago that recommended owners Patricia and Mark Birchem replace its old coin-op washing machines with high-efficiency front loaders, install automatic switches to shut off lights, and replace an inefficient 25-year-old hot-water system.
The Birchems replaced aging hot-water system with three high-efficiency tankless water heaters, saving 20% on monthly gas bills and reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 8.5 metric tons per year. The new boilers will pay for themselves in about four years with the estimated energy savings, depending on the price of natural gas.
Kirkland Cleaners is also saving about 100,000 gallons of water per month by replacing 13 washers with high-efficiency, front-load models. Kirkland has also replaced its lighting with energy-efficiency lighting fixtures.
“Managing all the legwork required for this type of project is difficult when you’re running a business,” Patricia Birchem said in a press release. “We’ve always been interested in energy efficiency, but sometimes you don’t even know where to start. The Cambridge Energy Alliance made it easy for us to incorporate energy efficiency into our business.”
CEA offers comprehensive energy audits for Cambridge businesses — often for free. The program also offers low-interest loans to help pay for the installation of energy- and water-conservation measures. CEA’s goal is to eliminate 150,000 tons of greenhouse gases through a range of measures, including cutting peak energy demand across the city by 50 megawatts.
Because CEA has developed a working partnership with Cambridge and energy companies, the organization is able to deliver one-stop customer service that allows business owners and residents to be involved with the process without having to manage it themselves, CEA says.
“Instead of the owner working with several different entities to schedule the audit, hire the contractors, pull the permits and apply for incentives, they have one person who handles all of those pieces for them,” says Josh Hassol, chief executive officer of CEA.