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Three New England Organizations – in Maine, N.H. and Mass. – Recognized for Energy Efficiency and Fighting Climate Change

Release Date: 09/29/2010
Contact Information: David Deegan, (617) 918-1017

(Boston, Mass. – Sept. 29, 2010) – Two businesses and one religious congregation in New England were among nine small organizations recently recognized nationally by EPA for their achievements in reducing greenhouse gases. The organizations employed innovative solutions to manage their energy demands in effective ways, saving money and reducing emissions to the air.

The groups recognized by EPA were the AutoFair Automotive Group of Manchester, N.H. and Patriot Subaru of Saco, Maine, who each won a 2010 Energy Star Small Business award. Also, the First Parish Needham in Needham, Mass., won in the category for congregations.

“New England has always been lucky to have many innovative and committed individuals who work for a cleaner and healthier environment and economy,” said Curt Spalding, administrator of EPA’s New England office. “These winners demonstrate that no matter its size, an organization can save money and use significantly less energy to power the buildings where Americans work, play, and learn.”

The winners all used different tactics to save energy in their buildings. Examples include installing programmable thermostats, lighting sensors, insulation, and white roof membranes; upgrading to more efficient LED and CFL lighting and Energy Star qualified equipment; and supporting employee “green teams” and energy-conscious behaviors.

The AutoFair Automotive Group, of Manchester, N.H., includes Ford, Honda and Hyundai dealerships. In 2007 first took the Energy Star Challenge to reduce energy usage by 10 percent annually.

AutoFair, which has more than 300 employees and 110,000 square feet in four buildings, estimates it saves nearly $94,000 annually in energy costs for the operation of their three auto dealerships. The savings of more than 580,000 kWh of electricity and 802,000 cubic feet of natural gas per year represents a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to the CO2 emissions from the annual electricity use of over 48 homes.

"We must walk the walk and show that an automobile business can not just sell hybrid vehicles to be green," said CEO Andy Crews. "We must also do our best to minimize the operations' environmental impact."

The business’s energy-efficiency program is overseen by the company's Green Committee, which consists of representatives from each facility as well as the CEO and CFO. Each facility tracks its energy usage and costs through the Energy Star Portfolio Manager system. Three of the four facilities have reduced energy usage more than 15 percent.    

In 2009, AutoFair Honda converted to Light Emitting Diode (LED) lighting in its lot. All the exterior parking lot lighting, which was sodium vapor and metal halide, was replaced with LED lighting with reflector technology. According to the manufacturer, the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions equates to reducing consumption of 35,580 gallons of gasoline. The annual cost savings is estimated at $55,721, plus another $1,673 in yearly maintenance.

Patriot Subaru in Saco, Maine, began in 2003 by Adam Arens, made a commitment from day one to protect the environment by reducing waste, recycling resources, and reducing energy consumption.

Patriot Subaru estimates that energy saving measured save more than $13,000 a year in energy costs for the operation of their auto dealership. They saved nearly 4,000 kWh of electricity and 62 gallons of propane per year, representing nearly a 6,000-pound reduction in CO2 emissions.

Patriot Subaru designed and built its facility to be efficient. Energy-saving measures include propane-based heating to minimize oil consumption, skylights to take advantage of day-lighting, motion controlled lighting, automatic shut off appliances, no heat or air use in the basement, and ceiling fans. The dealership identified more than 90 Energy Star qualified appliances, including 35 computers and monitors, printers, televisions, a refrigerator, and a microwave. Patriot is also converting outside lighting to LED lighting. The dealership received a grant from Efficiency Maine to cover 25 percent of the conversion cost.

According to Arens, Patriot Subaru began by studying EPA’s Energy Star Guidelines. "First and foremost was the commitment," Arens said. "Call it good business, call it common sense, but Patriot worked from day one to be a green dealership. We had the advantage of a new building designed to be smart so we haven't had expensive remodels and retrofits.”

Environmental operations extend beyond energy efficiency with use of natural live plants throughout the dealership and the use of chemical free pesticides and organic cleaning compounds. The dealership recycles 100 percent of automotive oil, places recycling containers throughout the dealership, and returns usable wrapping to shippers. There is no outside paging to avoid noise pollution and no promotional balloons so nothing can escape into the atmosphere.

First Parish, Needham was among the first 10 houses of worship in the country to earn an Energy Star label after the program for worship facilities was announced in Sept. 2009.

First Parish, Needham estimates it is saving more than $8,000 annually in energy costs. The savings of nearly 5,000 gallons of fuel oil per year represents a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to the CO2 emissions from the annual electricity use of nearly two homes.

The Parish’s efforts for a more energy efficient building began in 2005 when the congregation started a campaign to fund the renovation of the 170-year-old meeting house. A congregational building committee set a goal of creating a "green" house of worship, a goal backed by the Unitarian Universalist Association.

"Building green was not the only objective," states Edward Quinlan, property committee chairman. "The building committee tried to maximize the energy saving potential by scrutinizing available technologies and employing those that promised a good return-on-investment."

Although the facility is 25 percent larger, energy usage is down 30 percent. Energy costs have been reduced by 50 percent and the facility's carbon footprint has been reduced by 43 percent. Energy measures included building insulation throughout; individual temperature control for all space and extensive passive solar heating; and high-efficiency light fixtures throughout with CFL lights and motion-controlled switches in offices and classrooms. First Parish also added other "green building" features, including recycling demolition waste, low VOC materials, and using materials with high-recycled content; low-flow toilets; retention of storm water onsite and use of organic fertilizers and green cleaning products.

First Parish Needham has a "Green Sanctuary" committee that is working to achieve the "Green Sanctuary" certification presented by the Unitarian Universalist Association. The process involves all aspects of congregational life — worship, religious education, social action, and sustainable lifestyles. The Green Sanctuary committee has done outreach programs to communicate the importance of environmental stewardship to the congregation and the wider community. One of these was the Green Needham 10% Energy Challenge. This promotes Needham's 10% Energy Challenge based on the Energy Star Pledge for homes and the Energy Star Challenge for businesses. Last year, 65 First Parish families took the Energy Star Pledge.

The First Parish Needham will celebrate its award and highlight energy savings resources for congregations at an event Saturday, Oct. 23 at the First Parish Church of Needham.

The 2010 Energy Star Small Business and Congregations Award winners used tools and resources provided by EPA’s Energy Star program to develop their plans and to measure and track accomplishments. By strategically managing the energy performance of their facilities, these small businesses and congregations cut utility costs without sacrificing features, convenience, style, or comfort while making significant contributions to a cleaner environment.

More information: 

2010 Energy Star Small Business Award winners (

2010 Energy Star Congregation Award winners (

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Note: edited on 09/29/10 to fix typo (changed "Friday" Oct. 23 to "Saturday" Oct. 23 as date for Needham event