By Paul Leighton
---- — BEVERLY — YMCAs around the region are about to spend a lot of green to get greener.
But the Cape Ann YMCA in Gloucester is being left out of the $3.85 million project because officials say they expect to build or be in a new facility here within five years.
The YMCA of the North Shore plans to invest just under $4 million to make its buildings more energy-efficient through such measures as pool covers and computerized heating and lighting controls.
YMCA CEO Jack Meany said the moves will save enough energy to recoup the investment in less than 10 years.
“We’re pretty excited,” he said. “We think we’re going to save a substantial amount of money.”
The work will be done on the YMCA’s main buildings in Salem, Beverly, Marblehead, Ipswich and Haverhill.
But the Cape Ann YMCA in Gloucester will be bypassed because the organization expects to build or be operating out of a new site within the next five years, Meany said.
YMCA officials have had at least informal talks with Gloucester city officials regarding the opportunity for the nonprofit to move to the former Fuller School building, but that is just one of a number of options under consideration for the Fuller site, and Mayor Carolyn Kirk has denied the city has any such plans in the works.
Some of the biggest cost savings will come from the installation of automatic covers on the six pools in the five YMCAs, Meany said.
Normally, the air inside a pool has to be kept 2 degrees warmer than the pool water. By covering the pools at night, the air temperature can be lowered from 84 degrees to 60 degrees.
“Pool covers are big energy savers,” Meany said.
In addition, computerized controls will be installed in the YMCA buildings to allow for more efficient use of heating, air conditioning and lighting.
“You’re basically going to be operating a smart building,” Meany said.
The YMCA of the North Shore has hired ConEdison Solutions to oversee the project. The company, known as an energy service company, calculates and guarantees the energy savings, Meany said.
The work is scheduled to begin this month and be completed in September. Meany said most of the work will take place in the boiler rooms and mechanical rooms, so Y members shouldn’t be inconvenienced.
Meany said the energy project is not only economical but also socially responsible.
“We think that’s something that the YMCA should be,” he said. “We have a bunch of big buildings, and we consume a lot of energy. We wanted a little better understanding of how we could be more socially responsible and green as an organization and at the same time save a little bit of money.”