Efficient Buildings

Identifying Efficiency Measures

Municipalities often find themselves with a confusing array of choices when trying to identify projects to make their buildings more efficient.  Cities and towns using MassEnergyInsight, the free online energy benchmarking and tracking tool, are able to identify specific building and facilities to target for further assessment.  Recommendations to make an energy assessment as successful as possible include:

  • Specify the scope and payback criteria.
  • Require a site visit by the energy auditor.
  • Require the energy auditor to identify the anticipated amount of all utility incentives for measures with a payback of 10 years or less.
  • Suggest that the energy auditor include all measures for all facilities in a single table that includes facility, measure, annual cost savings, project cost, utility incentives, net project cost and measure life.
  • Be prepared with accurate and complete energy usage and cost data.
  • Have a plan for funding and implementing the recommended energy conservation measures.

Many municipalities and other local and regional public entities find that using the services available through the Mass Save program is the simplest and least costly path to implementing efficiency measures in their buildings. Contact your community’s  electric and gas account representative(s) or visit the Mass Save website. Note that energy conservation projects of $100K or less can typically be pursued directly with utility-contracted vendors (see Guidance pdf format of Guidance on Application of M.G.L 25A, §14

Additionally, municipalities may contract for energy evaluations directly with an auditor. DOER has released recommendations for selecting an energy evaluation and an overview of the types of energy evaluations: How to Choose An Energy Assessment for Municipal Buildings in Massachusetts pdf format of Audit Recommendations for Municipalities
. Municipalities may use the statewide contract PRF62 to select an auditor qualified through the state’s competitive procurement process. If using PRF62, be sure to follow the instructions in the user guide http://www.mass.gov/anf/docs/osd/uguide/prf62designateddoer.pdf. If using these independent energy evaluation services, municipalities need to consult with Mass Save to determine if energy efficiency measures identified are eligible for financial incentives.

The Green Communities Division is available to help facilitate energy evaluation services and to act as a technical resource to answer efficiency-related questions. Please contact your Regional Coordinator.

Implementing Efficiency Measures

A number of measures may be implemented at low or no cost and can build the case for implementing larger efficiency projects. Visit this Energy Star website for tips. Behavioral programs can have a significant input with a minimal amount of funding  (Acton-Boxborough Regional School District Case Study pdf format of Acton & Acton-Boxborough Schools Power Down Program

Mass Save incentives are available for a wide range of efficiency projects saving electricity and/or natural gas. It is critical that you contact your utility BEFORE moving forward with an efficiency project in order to be eligible to receive incentives. If you are interested in identifying and pursuing energy efficiency measures, please contact your electric and gas account representative(s) or see the Mass Save website

How to Handle Mass Save Incentives

Municipalities working with their electric and gas utilities through Mass Save's efficiency programs may be eligible to receive incentives. The billing process for Energy Efficiency Measures and any subsequent distribution of incentives is determined by the municipal customer. Common procedures for applying incentives include on-bill credits for measures paid through on-bill financing, reduction of the total cost of measures by crediting the incentives to the vendor, or credit to municipal general funds. Please consult with your legal counsel.

Comprehensive energy upgrades involve multiple measures and are targeted towards achieving significant energy savings. Although these projects take more time to plan and coordinate upfront, they typically achieve much deeper energy and cost savings than a piecemeal approach. Comprehensive energy upgrades can be financed through a number of pathways for single facilities, such as schools (DOE Financing Energy Upgrades for K-12 School Districts ), or for multiple facilities (Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnerships (NEEP). Private companies willing to manage these comprehensive energy upgrades, or energy management services, are called Energy Service Companies (ESCOs); for more information see DOER’s Energy Management Services web page .

Efficient Streetlights

LED streetlights provide many benefits including energy savings, cost savings, improved lighting and less light pollution. Municipalities that own their streetlights in Massachusetts can retrofit these streetlights to LEDs. In addition, metered lights, parking lot and garage lighting, exterior building lighting and traffic lights make excellent candidates for LED conversion. 

DOER launched the Rapid LED Streetlight Conversion Program in 2016 for municipally-owned streetlights. Administered by the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC), the program can fund up to 30 percent of cost of procuring and installing LED streetlights.  Visit the MAPC webpage for more information and to sign up.

The program in Municipal Light Territories is being administered by Energy New England and the Massachusetts Municipal Wholesale Electric Company.

LED Streetlights in Gateway Cities and Beyond (June 11, 2013) Workshop Presentations 

Efficient Vehicles

DOER is working with municipalities to address energy used by vehicles, an often overlooked usage that can be challenging to address. The designated Green Communities use an average of 19 percent of their total municipal energy use on vehicular fuel. In small towns, this number can be much higher - up to 35 percent. Energy usage by vehicles can be decreased by purchasing more fuel-efficient vehicles and by improving the efficiency of existing vehicles ( Municipal Fleet Efficiency  pdf format of Municipal Fleet Efficiency

Cities and towns can purchase fuel efficient vehicles off the statewide contract, VEH 98.  Several makes and models of hybrid and electric vehicles are available for purchase.  The Massachusetts Operational Services Division (OSD) developed a Contract User Guide. Download the OSD VEH98 User Guide for more information.

In addition, DOER, in partnership with the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC) and OSD, developed a statewide contract for advanced vehicle technologies. Download a program summary to learn more.

The contract, VEH102, via CommBuys is now available for use by all public entities in Massachusetts.  OSD has developed a Contract User Guide. Download the OSD VEH 102 User's Guide

There are three service categories covered by this statewide contract:

  1. Electric vehicle supply equipment – e.g. charging stations
  2. Idle reduction technology
  3. Aftermarket conversion technology


Download the VEH 102 User's Guide


This information is provided by the Department of Energy Resources.