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David and Kelly Moreland, owners of the building that houses Mama Goose, Mimi’s Attic, Bishops Carpet One, and other offices and apartments, knew they had to do something about their heating and cooling systems.
The 28,000 square foot building in Ithaca’s West End, which is a collection of many structures (the earliest built in 1872) that have been cobbled together over the last century, had hanging gas heaters that were over 50 years old, some not working.
Employees shivered through winters, then sweated in summer with air conditioners poorly suited to the space.
David, who manages the building, signed up for an energy audit as part of the Commercial Energy Workshop, a free workshop series organized by the Tompkins County Commercial Energy Efficiency Collaborative, comprised of the Tompkins County Chamber of Commerce, Get Your GreenBack Tompkins, Taitem Engineering and Tompkins County Cooperative Extension.
David’s initial apprehension about the project’s potential cost disappeared when he received his audit. Payback time for the recommended improvements were reasonable and financial incentives were available.
He was delighted to find that the new system was going to cost less to operate and make stores and offices more comfortable.
“Not only are we going to save money, we’re going to have happier staff and happier customers, too,” he said.
This was not the Morelands’ first audit. A NYSERDA energy assessment in 2008 spurred several changes, including new lighting throughout the building, with 75% of all equipment and installation costs covered by NYSEG.
David made an agreement with a few commercial tenants to keep the utility payment at the pre-efficient stage for a few years until the improvements were paid off. Some tenants in their apartments qualified for Tompkins Community Action’s Weatherization program, which covered 75% of the cost of insulating the attic and replacing the huge windows.
As a result, the building’s total utility bill dropped by over 30% from $35,000 in 2008 to $24,000 in 2012 (partially due to a drop in the price of natural gas). Commercial tenants today enjoy lower bills and residential tenants more comfortable apartments.
For this next round of upgrades, in addition to tackling the HVAC system, David plans to insulate some walls and water pipes. David is also considering upgrading the lighting once again, this time to LEDs. He would again take advantage of NYSEG’s 70% cost-share program.
The projected savings from all this work is a 23% reduction in electricity use and 36% reduction in fuel used for heating, saving over $5,000 a year on utility bills. Projected energy savings for other workshop participants are over 20% on average.
David is considering financing the work with the new commercial PACE financing offered through Tompkins County.
David says he has appreciated the workshop series and the audit as it has given him the opportunity to learn, think about and be attentive to his building.
His words of wisdom to other building owners? Take the time: “Even if you are not ready to make the changes right now, a few years down the road you are going to need to repair or replace something, and the energy audit will help guide you in a direction that will be better for the building, better for your wallet, better for your employees, and better for the environment–a direction you might not have thought of in the first place.”
The Commercial Energy Workshop is being offered again this year, beginning on Thursday, March 24th from 2:30-4pm at the Tompkins County Chamber of Commerce, 904 E Shore Drive, Ithaca. Owners or managers of non-residential buildings, including offices, restaurants, churches, B&Bs, and more, can sign up here [http://www.taitem.com/home/
The Commercial Energy Workshop is a 6-session series led by energy professionals from Taitem Engineering provides businesses and non-profits with a comprehensive energy audit and building analysis, along with relevant information and support to help them significantly reduce their energy bills and carbon emissions, and increase the comfort and safety of their building.
Solar and other renewables, and PACE financing are covered. The workshop is free, though a fully-refundable $150 deposit is required, and the audits are free to organizations with 10 or fewer employees.
The Commercial Energy Workshop is a collaboration of Cornell Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County, Get Your GreenBack Tompkins, Taitem Engineering, and the Tompkins County Chamber of Commerce.
Disclosure: The Ithaca Voice rents an office in Moreland’s West End space. We do not believe we have given anyone in this press release an unfair advantage or coverage. We invite all people to send us news releases for possible publication.