At a recent conference entitled Sustainably Lighting the World, sponsored by the Global Business Club of Mid-Michigan and hosted by Michigan State University, a smorgasbord of new sustainable lighting research and technology was introduced.
One of the most exciting presentations was given by Professor Richard Lunt who demonstrated a new type of glass that can change windows into renewable energy generators by converting sunlight into electricity. Imagine all the glass in a high rise structure generating electricity throughout the day! Just think of the energy savings! If you find the concept intriguing, you’ll want to view this video.
One of the first scheduled speakers held special interest for the EAGM team in attendance at the event. Julie Baldwin, who is the manager of renewable energy at the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC), spoke with great enthusiasm about the recent renovation of the building that houses her organization (see video). Baldwin was especially happy to report on the installation of a solar array at the facility which also houses the Michigan Agency for Energy. To witness a state agency, responsible for regulating energy, showcase renewable sources of energy and energy efficiency in its own operation is indeed refreshing.
“PACE is an innovative way that landlords, tenants and local officials can work together to pursue energy efficiency projects that would not otherwise take place,” MPSC Chairman John Quackenbush
The renovation story and the final results of the project were very compelling. The MPSC has a long-term lease with the private owner of the building. In a quest for improved efficiency, the organization was considering a facility renovation project that would be pace setting at multiple levels. The project would ultimately include an upgrade to energy efficient LED lighting, the installation of a 20kW solar array, plus the use of highly-efficient variable speed pumps for heating and air conditioning.
Along with the proposed leading edge technology, the state considered using the innovative Property Assessed Clean Energy financing program to fund the entire cost of the project. This included equipment, installation materials and labor, as well as all financing and legal costs. Better known as PACE, the program makes the conversion to energy efficiency more affordable. The MPSC became the first state agency in the nation to utilize PACE to fund the energy renovation of a state occupied but privately-owned building.
For the project to take advantage of PACE financing, the private company owning the structure had to approve the property assessment that would be the mechanism for repayment of the PACE financing. The owner’s response was “now why wouldn’t I do that?” when he realized that the building would be upgraded to a high level of energy efficiency without taking a dime out of his pocket.
The final result of the renovation was this: the property owner received a significant upgrade to the property without incurring any expense. All costs associated with the energy efficiency upgrades will be repaid through the property taxes which is the responsibility of the tenant. However, the tenant will actually save more in energy savings than the increase property tax payment so there will be no increase in his net expenses.
That is, the project will be cash flow positive. And what made Bladwin smile as she quoted the results was the net savings for Michigan taxpayers is going to be in the 100’s of thousands of dollars! A win for everyone!!!
All of the exciting and trendsetting sustainability technology and research that was introduced at the conference will need a mechanism to lower the up-front cost of implementation. PACE was cited as one such mechanism which is making the switch to renewable energy financially feasible. The picture used to introduce Baldwin at the event participants showed her standing with a broad smile in front of the newly-installed solar array.
Are you considering incorporating sustainable technologies? A great way to begin is with the free report entitled Ten Questions to Ask Before an Energy Efficiency Upgrade! The report is available HERE!