Upgrades to Arlington public housing could cut energy use in half this winter

Housing and Livable Communities Secretary Ed Augustus, center, speaks to Arlington Housing Authority resident Joseph Costantino during a visit to Chestnut Manor. (Tréa Lavery, MassLive)

After Gov. Maura Healey included a proposed $1.6 billion in her housing bond bill filed in October to make improvements to the state’s public housing stock, one housing authority’s environmental upgrades may serve as an example for projects yet to come.

Chestnut Manor, a 100-unit development for elderly and disabled residents owned by the Arlington Housing Authority, recently completed a $1.3 million project that is expected to cut its energy use by more than half.

“That’s going to be operational dollars that can go back into this particular building,” said Housing and Livable Communities Secretary Ed Augustus during a visit to Chestnut Manor on Tuesday. “Say they get a 10% or 15% savings, that’s 10 to 15% that they can put into other operations of the facility. Then in the family units, when the family has to pay the utility bills, that’s going to be money in their pockets which is going to go a long way.”

The project, completed by Action for Boston Community Development, the Arlington Housing Authority and Eversource with funding from the Mass Save program, involved upgrading the shell of the entire seven-story building, including weatherization and replacement of each unit’s exterior sliding doors and windows that were installed when the building was constructed in 1965, as well as upgrades to the HVAC system involving the installation of 105 new heat pumps. Before the upgrades, the building’s annual energy consumption for heating was about 478,389 kilowatt hours; while this will be the first winter after the completion of the project, the new consumption is estimated to be about 187,415 kWh.