On Monday, Waste Management Executive Assistant Frank Tassone and the Town of Brookhaven’s Chief Environmental Analyst Anthony Graves updated town officials during a work session meeting regarding their Energy Efficiency & Sustainability Initiative plan progress.
Since the town began executing the project earlier this year, Tassone said they are on target with creating a more energy-efficient environment during a work session meeting at the Town of Brookhaven. Thus far, the duo have completed energy audits in the Town of Brookhaven building, the Rose Caracappa Center in Mount Sinai, the Highway Department and the Brookhaven Animal Shelter as well as four other facilities, with the help of various contractors.
Additionally, they have and are still replacing existing streetlights with LED lights. During the meeting, Tassone said the town has saved over $320,000 in lighting this year, and they expect to save over $400,000. According to Graves, replacing the lights isn’t based on where the streetlights are located.
“We’ve been looking at [the lights] based on energy use,” Graves said in a phone interview. “Some of our streetlights use a lot more energy than other street lights [because] they’re higher voltage bulbs.”
To date, 1,316 traffic light units have also been replaced with LED bulbs. Tassone and Graves estimated that the change will help save nearly $40,000. They also projected that the plan will help save around $750,000, annually. Graves said that the number could increase as an increase in upgrades means the amount of money saved will also increase.
The plan also focuses on sustainability as part of Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine’s (R) goal to plant 10,000 native trees by 2020 to help the local environment. Four thousand native trees were planted so far. The plan also attempts to reduce fossil fuel emissions with its Green Fleet update. The town recently adopted a 33-mile-per-gallon minimum for passenger vehicles, which will reduce the amount of CO2 emissions in the environment. A typical vehicle excretes nearly 5,500 pounds of these emissions. With the new MPG standards, under 3,000 pounds of CO2 emissions will be released.
While saving energy is good for the environment, Graves said Long Island’s location makes energy saving and sustainability initiatives very important.
“We’re surrounded by water, and after Sandy we realized that we’re going to need to take a leading role in terms of trying to combat climate change,” Graves said. “We’re very vulnerable to sea level rise and to the increased intensity of storms that are predicted to occur as a result of climate change, and we can’t just sit here and do nothing. We have to show action.”
Romaine first mentioned this plan, which aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent by 2020, during his state of the town address in February. Tassone and Graves, alongside others who are working to execute this plan, targeted facilities that use high amounts of energy, like Town Hall.
During the work session meeting, Romaine commended Tassone and Graves and others involved in the plan, and he emphasized that it will take time to work.
“This is a plan that we’re working on, and it will come together.” Romaine said during the meeting. “It’s one of those things you don’t notice and all of a sudden you take a look at it and boom, you’ve achieved a reduction in greenhouse gases. You’ve improved your energy efficiency and you’ve reduced your cost. But it’s not something that just happens overnight, it’s a gradual thing.”