The Alternative Energy Committee met last Tuesday with Johnson Quality Controls to discuss potential rebuilding plans of town buildings and schools in the future. (Click here to download a copy of the presentation.)

Johnson Controls is a service company, said Karen Peck, a representative from the company. They work with towns and businesses to make their buildings more energy efficient.

Johnson Controls specializes in formulating energy performance contracts, Peck said. These contracts allow towns to use existing money to make their buildings more energy efficient. In return, the town will save money by using less energy.

The company uses a holistic approach for projects, Peck said. Instead of focusing on one building at a time, they group several buildings together and make renovations in all the buildings.

All the contracts that Johnson Controls develop have a guarantee savings measure. These savings are used to pay for the renovations, and the renovations pay for themselves within several years. After the contract is completed, most clients see a 20-30 percent savings, Peck said.

Projects can range from major reconstruction to putting sensors on lights. For example, Peck said an investment of around $10,000 in light fixture replacement could have an annual savings of around $3,000. This means the improved lighting will pay for itself in three years.

Towns and businesses can enter into a contract for up to 20 years.

“[Having a longer contract] gives towns an opportunity to develop a project,” Peck said.

Peck presented several examples of energy savings, starting with short-term investments, which she labeled “low-hanging fruit,” and ending with major infrastructure improvements like replacing boilers, which would take longer to pay off but could result in greater savings for the town.

“It’s a great model,” Frank Duggan, chairman of the Alternative Energy Committee said. He warned that the only drawback is that the town may not have the energy savings to make it worthwhile.

“My gut feeling is that most of the low-hanging fruit has already been taken,” Duggan said. He was referring to improvements that are easy fixes, such as lighting controls and better insulation. These improvements pay for themselves within three to four years.

Duxbury has participated in such performance contracts before. The school buildings were part of a contract in 1994 to 2004 through Noresco, a performance contracting company.

The committee is looking for ways for the town to save energy, whether it be green or not, Duggan said. Some of the projects the committee is looking into are installing a wind turbine in town or co-generation of different buildings.

“We’re trying to look outside the box for savings,” he said.