The Record-Review – The official newspaper of Bedford and Pound Ridge, New York

 

Local residents honored for energy-saving efforts

By JOHN ROCHE
DIANE LEWIS PHOTO

Mary Beth Kass and Joan Arnold at the Bedford Town Board on Monday, Dec. 19.

 

Twenty-three Bedford homeowners were recognized this month by the town board and the Energize Bedford program for being “pioneers” in having their homes retrofitted with energy upgrades in the past year.

In a ceremony preceding the year’s last town board meeting, the homeowners were presented with Energize Home Seals to formally certify their homes as being more energy-efficient after undergoing retrofits through the program. The local contractors who completed the work, which reduced energy consumption in the retrofitted homes by between 10 and 40 percent, were also on hand at the brief recognition.

“Each one of you who have saved money and reduced energy use in your home by participating in Bedford’s home energy retrofit program is a pioneer in this effort,” Town Supervisor Lee Roberts told those who were honored. “We salute you for helping us reach our goals, and for being leaders in making Bedford a more sustainable community.”

Ms. Roberts and her husband, Ken, were among those who received the new seals and a certificate for completing an energy assessment and upgrade through Energize Bedford, the town’s year-old pilot energy retrofit program.

The board also thanked the members of the Bedford Energy Advisory Panel, the Bedford 2020 Coalition and the staff of Energize Bedford for their work in helping the town achieve its goal of reducing its energy use 20 percent by the year 2020. Ms. Roberts said that assessments by BEAP and the Bedford 2020 Coalition showed that 53 percent of the town’s energy use stems from private homes, making improved residential energy efficiency a key element in Bedford’s 20 percent by 2020 initiative.

“What we’re really celebrating here is that homeowners have taken the initiative to reduce their energy use, which is remarkable when you think about it,” said Mark Thielking, who serves voluntarily as Bedford’s energy resources director. “Homes do not have to waste energy. They can all benefit from these upgrades, but what’s compelling is that there are also real community benefits around this.”

In addition to creating jobs on the local level, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and the town’s carbon footprint, Mr. Thielking pointed out that if every home in town underwent an energy upgrade, the savings in energy costs would total $11 million.

He compared the current move toward residential energy efficiency with the push for seat belt use for greater safety that began 40 years ago. What seemed new or even odd at the time when experts started touting seat belts has now become the norm, and Mr. Thielking believes that retrofits for older homes and building new houses with energy-efficient elements will also become the norm. “We feel we are at the very cusp of that,” he said. “We truly believe that this will be a social norm.”

The seals not only recognize that the homes are energy efficient, but also potentially add value to each residence. “The next buyer of these homes can understand that the home has been upgraded using a comprehensive approach for energy efficiency, but also for health, safety and comfort,” Mr. Thielking said. 

Ellen Conrad, co-president of the Bedford 2020 Coalition, commended the 23 homeowners for being “early adopters” of the retrofit program and leading the way toward the town’s energy and greenhouse gas reduction goals.

Retrofits could include energy efficiency upgrades such as insulation, new windows and high-efficiency furnaces, as well as the installation of clean energy technologies such as solar panels and geothermal heat pumps. Participating in the energy audits and retrofits is strictly voluntary for homeowners.

In addition to Ms. Roberts and her husband, the homeowners who were presented with the Home Energy Seals and certificates were Sean and Alissa Cahillane; Barbara and Andrew Chintz; the First Presbyterian Church of Katonah; Dr. Don and Margie Coe; Olivia and John Farr; Peter Giuntini; Mary Beth and Evan Kass; Tom and Ursula La Motte; the Lovitz Family; Harry and Rosemary MacLaughlin; R.J. and Eve Marx; Daniel and Celeste Potash; Gerard and Josephine Voege; Barry Grossbaum; Keith Bass; Jane Saperstein; David Cameron; Marc Black; Tim and Michelle Fisher; and Rob Roy.

Mr. Thielking said that 80 homes in northern Westchester have received energy efficiency upgrades this fall, and that the goal of the program is to build on the foundation of the 23 retrofitted homes in Bedford to see hundreds of area homes boost energy efficiency.

The program’s director, Tom Bregman, Ms. Conrad and Mr. Thielking thanked the town board for its continuing support of the home retrofit program. “Without the vision and support of the town board and certainly Lee Roberts, this program would not have gotten off the ground,” Mr. Thielking said.

The board specifically acknowledged Mr. Thielking’s “amazing” contributions and vision in terms of energy savings throughout Bedford. “You’ve done all this work with no special recognition or remuneration,” Ms. Roberts told him. “We are so grateful for all you’ve done for the town.”

Mr. Bregman said the homeowners who have taken part in the home assessments and energy efficiency upgrades have demonstrated true leadership. “What’s happening here in Bedford is being seen as a model, not just for northern Westchester but for the state, so we recently changed out name from Energize Westchester to Energize New York,” Mr. Bregman said. “Just as we spent 2011 focusing on Bedford, 2012 will be about replicating this program to 13 other communities in the Northern Westchester Energy Action Consortium and beyond. You are leading the way. You are the tip of the spear.”

Following the recognition for the homeowners, Bedford 2020 presented a $2,000 check to A-HOME’s executive director Joan Arnold. A-HOME won the second round in an ongoing incentive program open to community organizations that promote Energize Bedford.

Local homeowners interested in learning more about home energy audits, securing low-interest financing for retrofits or reviewing work that’s been done on Bedford homes through the program can visit www.energizebedford.org.



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January 6, 2012