Williamstown COOL Committee Pushes Fire District on Station Design Process

Stephanie Boyd and Susan Abrams of the Carbon Dioxide Reduction Committee (COOL) address the prudential committee at its monthly meeting on Wednesday. The committee wants to get more involved in planning the new fire station to ensure it meets the city’s net zero emissions targets.

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. – Members of an environmental action group on Wednesday urged the fire district to include advocates in early planning for a new fire station on Main Street.

Stephanie Boyd and Susan Abrams of the Carbon Dioxide Reduction Committee (COOL) addressed the prudential committee at its monthly meeting to ask how members of the COOL committee can best work together with the district building committee and its designers to ensure that the planned station is in line with The commitment to net zero carbon emissions was overwhelmingly adopted at this year’s city annual meeting.

“We’re saying we have knowledge or services that could help you with your project,” Boyd told the panel. “From our experience, we know you need to have these conversations early.”

Members of the prudential committee, who had previously received an update indicating that the programming stage of the design process was “coming to an end”, told representatives of the COOL committee that it was premature to start. specific discussions on the design elements that would make the building more efficient.

But Chief Craig Pedercini invited Boyd and Abrams to attend the next build committee in December, and Deputy Chief Michael Noyes recommended that the COOL committee prepare an outline of talking points for this meeting to guide a conversation with the designers. .

At the start of Wednesday’s discussion, David Moresi, a member of the prudential committee, who sits with Pedercini and Noyes on the building committee, told COOL committee members that now is the time to have conversations about green engineering and seemed to dismiss part of the experience. that Boyd brings to the discussion.

“Right now, as you heard from the officers and the chief, even before you got to the MEP, which is the mechanics [electrical and plumbing] side of the project, which obviously involves the equipment, which is going to be energy efficient and involves the net-zero goals, we have to move on to the first step, which involves these agents telling the designer, the architect, exactly what we are “looking,” Moresi said.

“I think it’s great that your goals are to build a sustainable building,” Boyd replied. “I have been one of many green buildings at Williams College.…

“Green public safety buildings? Moresi interjected.

“No, buildings of different types,” Boyd replied. “Sports buildings, university buildings, libraries …”

“Big differences,” Moresi retorted.

Boyd continued.

“I understand that there are different challenges in all types of buildings,” she said. “But I was also a [Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design]-certified professional. I acted as a green consultant. I have trained architects and designers for green certification, so I have some experience in this area. I am also an engineer.

“One of the key things when trying to design a sustainable building is to start as soon as possible. You can start before programming. finding the design team, we stipulated the intensity of energy consumption that we wanted to have for this building … so that the team of architects would know when they arrived that they had to design a building that was really , really energy efficient. can do even if you are in the programming or schematic design stage. “

District Treasurer Corydon Thurston later said he believed Abrams, Boyd and Moresi were more in agreement with each other than they thought, but the district did not. “Not yet there” when it comes to calling on outside expertise on the project’s energy efficiency objectives.

Thurston also said the Fire District’s request for proposals to find an owner’s project manager for the new station project was modeled on the request for proposals issued by Greenfield, which was referenced earlier in the meeting by Abrams as a model for building a net zero station. .

“Our commitment from the start has been to do [the station] as sustainable as possible because we have to pay the bills, all of us, as taxpayers, ”Thurston said.

Taxpayers were also on the mind of the latest member of the public to address the prudential committee Wednesday at town hall.

“I’m concerned about the costs,” said Jeffrey Thomas, who is part of a community outreach committee for the Fire District. “The fire station is first and foremost how to put out fires in the community. It is the number 1, number 2, number 3, number 4 and number 5 priority. , we have to think about the safety of the personnel, the equipment, the capital requirements, there are a lot of things to consider.

“The cost is another important thing to consider. I would like to ask that when you think about how to make this green building, that there be transparency on the cost. It doesn’t mean that we – it sure doesn’t mean that I – we’re committed to spending 25% or 40% more on a fire station so that we can meet that goal. “

Key words: energy efficiency, fire station, safety committee,

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Billie M. Secrist