New Rochelle’s Sustainability Plan, GreeNR, sets a goal of reducing municipal energy use and greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40% by 2020. We’re off to a very good start, with comprehensive energy efficiency upgrades already underway in our two largest municipal buildings.

This week, the City Council took another big step forward by approving the installation of high-efficiency LED light fixtures in the New Roc City and Transit Center garages. The new lights are expected to cut energy use by about 60%, from roughly 1.9 million kilowatt-hours to about 1.1 million kilowatt-hours, with an equivalent reduction in CO2 equivalent emissions. That’s a big environmental benefit.

Taxpayers also come out ahead. Energy costs will be cut by about $160,000 per year. Because the initial capital costs of about $1.5 million are funded by a loan from the New York State Power Authority, our net savings will initially be smaller — between about $5,000 and $25,000 per year, depending upon variable interest rates. Once the loan is paid off, between years 7 and 10, all the savings will flow to the City. Over the expected 20-year lifespan of the new lights, total savings for local taxpayers will be about $2 million.

Efficiency and savings must be ongoing priorities for our community, especially in a time of fiscal challenge, so we will continue seeking opportunities to be both green and cost-conscious.