Three years, a million dollar later... The Staples re-builders finally address the issue of solar power!
Verbatim audio transcript of the Staples P&Z meeting held at the Westport Town Hall Auditorium
Thursday March 13th 2003 - 10:55 PM (3:55 hours into the meeting)

Edgar Van Gelder (P&Z): We've had questions from the public about solar panels, did we consider solar energy panels, and why were they rejected?

Joseph Fuller Jr. (architect): I would have to differ to the engineers. Solar panels? Do you want to talk about solar panels? 

Eleanor Lowenstein (P&Z Chair): Why do you just... Can I just say, in addition, I mean there were questions about solar and everything else... This is really just a question to see if they've considered it, because we don't really look at that in a building, but that's hopefully, that you know, that in town... we will be looking at something that's energy efficient, so that's the question.

Dan Kail (Renovation Committee Chair): No consideration's been given for solar energy.

Lowenstein: Or any other... how about energy efficiency?

Kail: Totally energy efficient... totally energy efficient, OK? In the materials, in the HVAC* system, OK? But no alternative sources.

voice in the background: New values of walls...

Kail: New values of walls, the expert are telling me.

voice: Everything meets the code.

Kail: Everything... but not solar.

Susan Chiapuras (project manager): We also work in conjunction with CL&P because that's also with the energy efficiency in our systems and our lighting. That's how we get rebates for the town on the project.

Van Gelder: Yeah, but CL&P probably would not be proposing solar panels. (audience laughter) I suppose you could make it, you could consider it at some future date, I mean before you go into construction to see if solar panels are feasible...

Chiapuras: That would be a committee decision.

Van Gelder: OK... I have no more questions.

Elizabeth Kuechenmeister (P&Z): Mrs. Chiapuras, last we met last time for the snow storm, you had said that regarding the school being renovated into an emergency shelter, that the structural steel was deficient to win. Could you explain to me what that means?

Chiapuras: What the engineer report said is that the structure could not be brought up to the codes required for emergency shelter classification. So it doesn't mean the building isn't structurally sound, what it means is that there are higher wind loads and other requirements that it would have to meet in order to be classified either as a hurricane shelter or some kind of an emergency facility.

*[heating ventilation air conditioning] 

This was a relevant follow-up question Ms. Kuechenmeister asked, because in the event that the school building could indeed be brought up to the necessary emergency shelter specifications, in other words, use a higher quality steel for its construction, (are we building on the cheap here?) it would then become eligible for State assistance on stand alone emergency power systems, i.e. renewables. So someone should do the math to figure out exactly how much money might ultimately be saved by investing in better steel construction if this would indirectly effect long term heating and cooling costs. The next question is now whether this group will finally start looking beyond their "precious" code cop-out, or if this has all been pearls before swine! RC

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