The Reality of Existing Building Decarbonization: Upgrading for future retrofits
The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) is currently working with MA Department of Energy Resources, state utility incentive program, and independent consultants on what seems to be an unfeasible electrification challenge: retrofitting large, old maintenance buildings with significant limitations. The MA 2050 Net Zero Goals and MA Executive Order 594 require existing state buildings eliminate or substantially reduce the use of onsite fossil fuels, particularly for heating. Many of the existing heating systems are carbon intensive and use #2 heating oil, propane-fired boilers, or natural gas-to-steam boilers, and are critical in day-to-day operations.
The pilot for this systemwide heating electrification retrofit program is the Everett Bus Maintenance Facility. This facility has large process ventilation requirements and heating loads, limited-to-no weatherization, and steam heating equipment in constant need of maintenance. After two initial studies, the project team has had to adjust expectations with the new goal of upgrading for a future retrofit. As such, the MBTA is now planning to install a hybrid heat pump system with supplemental low temperature fossil fuel heating and include plans for future full electrification. This will ensure the Authority avoids locking-in high carbon designs with equipment lives of around 25 years by replacing in-kind.
This presentation will focus on the MBTA’s difficulty and process of meeting emissions reductions goals for existing buildings. It will also allow for comparative discussion in hopes of inspiring other agencies to not let perfection limit their strides towards energy improvements.
Erica Anderson grew up taking the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority (MBTA or the T) throughout the Greater Boston Area. She then obtained a B.Eng. in Chemical Engineering from McGill University while biking and taking the Montreal Metro around the city. Erica went on to successfully defend her M.A.Sc.. in Chemical Engineering at Queen’s University in Kingston, ON where she mostly walked or biked, but sometimes took the local bus system to the lab. Her thesis focused on converting waste to energy for automotive facilities. She is now back in MA, working as the Energy Conservation Specialist for the T after spending two years working in energy efficiency consulting for the state energy incentive programs.