Bellport Village looks to get greener

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Bellport Village is seeking new ways to stay environmentally cleaner.

“We’re gathering data for an analysis by Johnson Controls,” said village clerk John Kocay. “Their engineer will study our utility bills, carbon footprint and what we might have in sustainability opportunities. We’ll probably have the analysis done the end of July.”

Marc Rauch, who chairs the new Environmental Committee designated by mayor Ray Fell, initiated the Johnson Controls survey.  It was approved at the June 27 board meeting.

“When Johnson Controls contacted us, they were interested in doing a similar project that they did in Patchogue Village,” said Fell. “I mentioned that they were a bigger village, but they said they could save energy and money with some initiatives.” Johnson Controls made their presentation May 31.

“I worked with Johnson Controls when I was Patchogue-Medford superintendent, and they did an energy project and put together a plan for us,” Fell said. “If the village signs a contract with them, they would do the work and we would pay them through energy savings. So say we pay $10,000 a month in utilities, and through their energy initiatives, we then pay $7,000. We would pay them the percentage of the savings, $3,000. Here’s how it rolls out. They’ll go through the village and look at what they can do, and they don’t charge us for the survey. The clock doesn’t start ticking until we sign a contract on what we approve. Once we pay them over time and they’re finished with the project, we continue to reap the savings.”

Rauch had suggested commencing the Environmental Committee after he retired last fall as a clean energy specialist for the Environmental Defense Fund.  Fell gave the green light.

“The first working committee was in January and it meets twice a month,” Rauch said. “We’re looking at protecting the bay because the breach is closing, looking at energy use with Johnson Controls, promoting biking and walking and glass recycling, and organizing beach cleanups.”

As for the analysis, “the village is gathering information to see if there are energy opportunities. So the steps are, preliminary survey, then committing to a full-scale audit, and then a contract, if approved, for an improvement project. Ray and John spoke about it at the June 27 board meeting.”

Rauch tapped Patchogue’s village trustee Joe Keyes, who initiated the village’s PEP Committee (Protecting the Environment in Patchogue) in January 2015, to attend Bellport’s Environmental Committee meeting. One of PEP’s biggest initiatives was the plastic bag ban, which was the impetus for other municipalities. He oversees the Patchogue Green Business program and introduced Green Business Awards.

Patchogue Village signed on with Johnson Controls for an audit in October 2020 and accepted a contract in March 2021, which included a dollar-neutral energy savings project. It encompassed a solar carport and rooftop solar panels on the Patchogue Theatre along with other initiatives, including electric vehicle chargers.

“Marc knew about the PEP Committee because of the Advance stories and reached out,” Keyes said.  “I started talking about what Johnson Controls could do for Bellport Village. Marc brought the proposition to mayor Fell.

Kocay admitted that Patchogue’s jump to sign on with Johnson Controls was an impetus, “but we were already on track,” he said. “We knew about them because they are security consultants and we already use them. They bought the security company we used three years ago.”

“We do have some solar, at the Highway Department and at Ho Hum Beach at the concession—there’s a small solar field there,” Kocay added. “We use LED lightbulbs, but we want to pursue more energy-efficient lightbulbs with streetlamps.  Ray made a list of sustainable opportunities that included street lighting, Village Hall, the community center, the DPW yard, Ho Hum Beach, our marina, the Bellport Country Club catering, and Peter’s on the Green Grill Room.” 

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