Members from the UConn Institute for Advanced Systems Engineering (IASE) recently supported the Town of Fairfield’s application for recognition in the Sustainable Connecticut Program that earned them a top-level honor in the program.
The Sustainable Fairfield Task Force (SFTF) provides support for projects and initiatives that help Fairfield maintain the growth and health of its environment, ensure a proper and economical use of the town’s natural resources, and promote a high quality of life for all residents. Multiple municipal departments contribute to the SFTF, each of which focus on different aspects of Sustainable CT initiatives. The UConn team was primarily responsible for providing building energy benchmarking technical support to the Fairfield effort.
The UConn team was led by Dr. Amy Thompson, an Associate Professor-in-Residence of Systems Engineering at the IASE. Two undergraduate students, Ian Beattie, a senior in Environmental Engineering, and Emma Atkinson, a senior in Biomedical Engineering contributed as well. The UConn students collected building energy information and data from Fairfield and United Illuminating and used the EPA’s Portfolio Manager tool to provide building energy assessments for each of Fairfield’s 22 municipal buildings and 16 school buildings. The building energy benchmarking component was a key component in the Sustainable CT judging process. United Illuminating provided funding to the UConn IASE for faculty and student support of the benchmarking effort and also provided the real-time data exchange system that made the benchmarking possible. “United Illuminating believes that supporting engineering students in this project to learn more about building energy efficiency may encourage them to enter careers in energy engineering. The project allows students to see first-hand real issues and solutions for lowering building energy consumption in municipal and school buildings and the project provides a valuable technical resource to communities like Fairfield,” says Sheri Borrelli, United Illuminating.
The Sustainable CT Initiative, which began last October, awards certifications to towns and communities across Connecticut that achieve high standards across a variety of sustainability accomplishments. The program gives awards in three categories based on the amount of points received. The highest ranking is a Gold Certification, the second is the Silver Certification, and the last is the Bronze Certification. The town of Fairfield earned tops honors for the program, being one of only five towns in the state to receive a Silver Certification. In addition, Fairfield also received the highest ranking in the Silver category, deeming the town the “Most Sustainable Town in Connecticut”. Some of the most notable accomplishments that were cited from the Fairfield application were building awareness of the town’s history, assessing potential town-wide impacts of climate change, supporting projects such as recycling, composting, green space preservation, and complete streets policies, and increasing the use of solar energy systems across the town.
An awards ceremony took place at the Fairfield Museum and History Center on January 18th, 2019, which celebrated the award and honored everyone who contributed to not only the award, but making Fairfield a sustainable place to live and work. UConn students left the ceremony thinking, “this is a great place to live.”