MIDDLETOWN – A specially trained graduate student will spend the summer in Middletown sleuthing ways to increase energy efficiency in township buildings and save money.

The graduate student is provided gratis by Climate Corps Public Sector, an innovative summer fellowship program developed by Environmental Defense Fund. Cost savings are directly linked to improvements in lighting, computer equipment, and heating and cooling systems. Fellows document how to use savings to pay for energy upgrades, said Township Planner Jason Greenspan.

In the summers of 2009 and 2010, fellows identified projects in other locations that could reduce energy use by as much as 46 percent. The program is credited with helping North Carolina Central University identify ways the campus could cut energy costs by more than $2.6 million annually – a dramatic 64 percent reduction.

“This fellowship program is a great opportunity for Middletown to identify cost-effective ways to improve township facilities, conserve a greater amount of energy and ultimately save tax dollars,” said Mayor Anthony P. Fiore. “I’m looking forward to seeing the study results.”

Meanwhile the township is gearing up to install HVAC and lighting upgrades at township buildings to increase energy efficiency. The $450,000 improvement project comes at no cost to the township, thanks to funding from the NJ Clean Energy Direct Install program and federal Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant program. The upgrades will produce an immediate savings of $100,000 per year in utility bills, Township Administrator Anthony Mercantante said.

Middletown, a Sustainable Jersey certified town, has instituted a number of eco-friendly projects and programs aimed at helping the community live greener, conserve energy and reduce dependency on foreign oil. Other projects undertaken since the township’s Green Initiative began in 2007 include the use of two hybrid vehicles by township personnel, Recycle2$ave, which encourages residents to recycle more; a bio-fuel pilot program which utilizes used vegetable oil to fuel township vehicles; installation of energy efficient light bulbs in township buildings; and a planned native plant garden installation at Poricy Park with grant assistance from the Sustainable Jersey Program. Meanwhile township is considering additional green projects including installation of solar canopies to generate electric.

EDF Climate Corps Public Sector is an offshoot of EDF Climate Corps, started in 2008 to place top-tier MBA students in the nation's leading companies to identify and analyze energy-saving opportunities and develop practical, actionable plans for companies to implement them. The program's rapid success in the corporate world led EDF to expand its work into the public sector.