Energía: Making Wilder More Energy Efficient

Energía, an innovative sustainable energy company based in Holyoke, is working on a two-phase project to make Wilder Residence Hall more energy efficient. According to Todd Holland, Five College energy manager, who is overseeing the project, the recently completed first phase involved stripping the attic in the 1899 building of all the original rock wool insulation and debris. Phase two, installation of air sealing and new insulation, will begin in mid-July.

As Holland explained, a lot of air moves through the building through numerous cracks and spaces, particularly in the ceiling. As warm air rises and escapes through the ceiling, more air enters the building, creating a "stack effect." Air sealing and insulating the attic floor is expected to reduce that stack effect, making the building warmer in winter and cooler in summer. Holland said the College's project will "close the sustainability loop," by using money that would have been used for heating fuel to hire local laborers to reduce fuel use and increase comfort.

Energía was launched in 2009 by two Holyoke nonprofit groups, Nuestras Raíces and Nueva Esperanza, and Co-op Power, a consumer cooperative. According to Tom Rossmassler, Energía's CEO, the company's goal is to support the community by providing low-cost, high-quality energy-saving services and new jobs while protecting the environment. The company also promotes employee ownership.

Energía's construction crew has completed the Roots Up Green Jobs program for low-income youth in Springfield and Holyoke, which also helps students obtain a GED. The students are paid to learn energy conservation, energy efficiency, and how to install solar hot water systems. The trainees also receive guidance on workplace skills, behavior, and dress. Holland has been extremely impressed by the workers.

"They do really good work, and the crew chiefs were excellent," he said.

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