Think Green: John Hoegl leads the Ewing Green Team’s energy team. The Green Team will hold a workshop on the state’s clean energy savings program, Direct Install.

New Jersey business owners can save money on new energy efficient equipment through a current grant offered by the state’s Clean Energy Program. The savings for qualifying small and medium size businesses can be up to 70 percent.

The Sustainable Ewing Green Team (EGT) will present a free workshop on this program, known as Direct Install, on Tuesday, October 23, at 7 p.m. at the Senior and Community Center, 999 Lower Ferry Road. The Direct Install Program is open to all qualifying New Jersey business owners, and the Ewing workshop is open to anyone wanting to learn more about the topic. Registration is not required. For questions, email ewinggreenteam@gmail.com.

Attendees will hear from John Hoegl, the Ewing Green Team’s energy leader, a representative from the Direct Install contractor — Tri-State Light & Energy — as well as business owners who have already completed the program.

As of this past June, 7,840 projects had been completed with approximately $170 million in incentives paid, according to the New Jersey Clean Energy website. In addition to the savings on equipment, participants also benefit from ongoing savings through significantly reduced energy costs on their monthly utility bills.

Companies that qualify for this program include small to mid-size commercial and industrial facilities with an average peak electric demand that did not exceed 200 kW over the preceding 12-month period. Business owners who intend to apply for the program must submit utility bills showing they are below the demand threshold and have occupied the building for the past 12 months. Buildings must be serviced by one of the state’s public, regulated electric or natural gas utility companies.

The program, administered by a division of the Board of Public Utilities, begins with a free energy audit to determine what operational equipment meets the program requirements. Qualifying items include outdated equipment that can be replaced with energy efficient units and systems. These items could include lighting; heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC); refrigeration; motors; and variable frequency drives. More detailed information is available online at njcleanenergy.com/commercial-industrial/programs/direct-install.

Eden Autism Services at Prince­ton Forrestal Village is one example cited on the website of an organization that has benefited from the program. Eden contracted for a total of $96,741 worth of lighting and HVAC retrofits, including occupancy sensors, programmable thermostats, faucet aerators, and pipe wrap insulation. The Direct Install incentive was 70 percent, or $67,719. Eden’s share of the cost was $29,022 (30 percent). The annual savings were projected to be $14,124, with a payback period to Eden of 2.05 years.

Hoegl grew up in West Hempstead, New York, where his mother was the founder, publisher, editor, and chief reporter of weekly newspapers known as the Beacons. Hoegl studied at Bucknell University, earning a bachelor’s degree in chemistry.

Hoegl served in the Army at Fort Carson, Colorado, before landing a job with Shell Chemical Company, which started his career in the industry, beginning with petrochemicals and evolving to clean and renewable energy.

Hoegl became actively involved in energy conservation and climate change issues after moving to Mercer County several years ago. In addition to energy efficiency, Hoegl sees promise in community-wide renewable energy. This past July he participated in a community solar energy seminar at Rutgers University. Under this program, now being piloted by New Jersey Board of Public Utilities, solar panel arrays are installed at sites remotely located from the properties of participating customers who receive credits on their utility bills. Hoegl says he is supportive of this plan since many people cannot have solar installed on their homes because of installation costs or lack of sufficient sun.

Since 2005 he has devoted his time to volunteer work, mostly focusing on the environment and sustainability. In addition to his work with EGT, he is a member of Ewing’s environmental commission and Mercer County Sustainability Coalition. Hoegl and environmental commission member Pete Boughton were instrumental in forming the Ewing Green team in 2009.

An important goal for the Sustainable Ewing Green Team over the coming months is to renew its silver certification with the Sustainable Jersey, a program that provides tools, training and financial incentives to support sustainability efforts led by individual communities.

To be recognized as a sustainable community, the town must complete a number of actions that contribute to a healthy environment and quality of life for its residents. There are three levels of recognition: bronze, silver, and gold. Ewing received its bronze certificate in 2013 and its silver certificate in 2016, which is up for renewal in 2019.

To meet its renewal requirements, the Team is working on several ongoing community programs like the Direct Install workshop.

In addition to participating in this program, a qualifying business owner can be added to the Green Businesses page on the EGT website. To become a recognized business, one must be active in a number of sustainable practices that could include waste prevention, purchasing, energy conservation, water conservation, storm water management, landscaping, and transportation/air quality. To learn more about becoming a recognized Ewing Green Business, contact program coordinator Evan Crumiller at evancrumiller@gmail.com.

The Green Team is working on several other projects applicable to both the business and residential communities. Chaired by Joanne Mullowney, the team is currently focusing on recycling and wildlife habitats.

Understanding what is and is not recyclable is especially important today because of China’s recent restrictions on acceptable recyclables, limiting what can be exported to its country. As part of EGT’s educational efforts, it is hosting a contest featuring scarecrows made from at least 80 percent of recycled, reclaimed and/or reused materials.

The Wildlife Habitat Project is one of EGT’s recent endeavors. The goals of the program are to encourage homeowners and businesses to create wildlife habitats and connections on their own properties; promote biodiversity; and minimize or eliminate use of pesticides and herbicides. EGT has registered Ewing with the National Wildlife Federation Community Habitat Certification program.

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