A former industrial building, built in 1914 and unused for the past 20 years, is slated to be converted into “one of the most energy efficient affordable housing facilities” according to the project developer. Because it’s located in the heart of one of Michigan’s largest cities it will provide easy access to all the city has to offer by using public transit, a bicycle or simply walking!
The Energy Alliance Group of Michigan (EAGM) was invited to sit in on the initial design meeting of this interesting project due to the desire of the developer to utilize Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing. As part of an overall “green strategy” the developer wants the resulting 140 residential units to use the least amount of energy to maintain affordability and be as “green” as possible. Under consideration is geo-thermal heating, roof mounted solar, energy efficient windows, high R-value insulation, energy star appliances, etc. The intent is to use the PACE program to finance all the energy efficiency upgrades on the project.
“a building that would probably have been demolished in the past”
The county in which the building is located is not yet an approved PACE district which will be required in order to make the high level of energy efficiency construction affordable. EAGM’s expertise is being sought to help get that approval. The first step is to educate the county commissioners as they prepare to vote on the PACE initiative.
Once the commissioners realize the approval of PACE results in an economic development program for their community, that never requires the use of taxpayer money and will contribute to the “greening” of the county by reducing its carbon footprint, a yes vote is typically a forgone conclusion. In Michigan the cumulative vote of all the county commissioners who have passed PACE stands at 177 Yes votes and only 6 No votes. The almost unanimous cumulative vote illustrates the broad appeal and benefits that are part of this growing program that is making “green strategies” possible.
The EAGM energy team was asked to look at all aspects of the renovation that qualify for PACE. The PACE program pays for essentially all energy efficiency and water conservation upgrades. For new construction applications, any energy efficiency improvement above that which is required for building code compliance can be considered for PACE financing.
The developer of this project sees vast untapped potential in this iconic building that has been vacant for far too long. That potential is due in large part to the proximity of the building to the downtown district, a documented need for affordable housing, and the result of preserving a historic building so that it becomes a beautiful community asset.
Once the county has approved PACE (allowing the project to officially move forward) EAGM will provide the full details on this trendsetting venture. It will be exciting to witness a building that would probably have been demolished in the past, be preserved and re-purposed as an affordable home to those who enjoy taking advantage of all a downtown has to offer!