A rebirth is taking place in Detroit, Michigan and, according to Cathleen Francois of Greening Detroit.com, a big focus is on renovating older buildings instead of demolishing them and replacing them with new structures. Renovating results in less waste and maintains iconic structures that are woven into the culture of the city.
One building undergoing renovation is iconic for a variety of reasons but most recently it served as the backdrop for the movie 8 Mile starring Eminem. It’s the actual plant where the star worked prior to becoming famous.
The building was constructed in 1922 and was originally known as Fisher Body #23. It was closed in 1982 and then purchased in 1989 by Greg Smith and renamed New Center Stamping Company. They are a specialty stamping plant that makes relatively small runs of replacement body parts for the big three auto companies.
The renovation will address many age-related problems inherent in older buildings. A major one is maintaining a comfortable temperature in the middle of winter. The building has virtually zero insulation and the massive number of windows are so old, air seems to blow in all around them.
Additional issues of the older structure include:
- Single pane windows
- Poorly insulated roof
- Uninsulated exterior walls
- Outdated lighting costly to operate
Because so many of the upgrades reduce wasted energy, the unique finance program known as Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) will be used to finance the project. A key requirement of PACE (see video) is that the entire cost of the project – equipment, labor, materials, legal and financial – must be less than the resultant energy savings. The primary benefit of this requirement is it protects the company’s cash flow. The existing capital will continue to be available for funding daily operations.
The Energy Alliance Group of Michigan was contracted by New Center Stamping to help acquire the PACE financing, and also determine the best technologies for optimizing the compressed air system, interior lighting (to include daylight harvesting), building envelope, employee comfort and work process illumination.
Because there are so many issues that need to be addressed a comprehensive project is called for. Since PACE requires zero up-front capital from the company, the decision makers are free to correct the wide variety of issues at the same time instead of the typical piecemeal approach that often results when preservation of capital is a primary concern.
The New Center Stamping Plant renovation is a great example of the rebuilding process currently taking place in Detroit. A growing number of people are excited about Detroit coming back to life as they witness the renovation of old buildings that help maintain the history of the great city while raising property values, creating more comfortable working environment, saving companies money and ultimately reducing wasted energy through increased efficiencies.
The Energy Alliance Group of Michigan works with businesses and commercial building owners desiring increased profitability and environmentally friendly facilities through energy efficiency. That process often includes a reduction in energy use as well as an increase in renewable energy production.