How do you renovate a historical building with a stipulation that the before and after pictures look the same?
A 1920’s era apartment complex is the latest energy renovation project The Energy Alliance Group (EAG) of Michigan is in charge of developing. Because of the building’s historical value, unique challenges had to be addressed during the planning stage before the renovation project could even move forward.
According to EAG’s Project Development Manager, Steve Payer, the building – constructed in 1929 – has a roof that leaks, an inefficient heating system, outdated lighting and windows that are all original!
The black steel framed, single pane, casement-style windows no longer seal effectively and have poor resistance to the greenhouse effect. In addition they are worn out to the point of being difficult to open and close!
While all of the outdated systems require attention, the widows were both the greatest need, and greatest challenge, on this intriguing project.
“Windows help create the environment, impression and experience from the perspective of the tenant! Steve Payer, EAG Project Development Manager.
A leaky roof can be a challenge when it’s raining, but widows are used by tenants every day. Because the windows no longer seal properly, air infiltration makes keeping rooms comfortable an ongoing challenge. The greatest number of complaints from tenants involve problems with the windows.
A total of 281 windows are slated to be replaced, but the challenge was deciding what type of replacement windows should be installed.
Energy efficiency was of prime importance for the replacement windows, but replacing the black framed original windows with white a vinyl clad window would dramatically alter the historical value of the beautiful building and its stunning design elements.
The challenge of an appropriate replacement window was overcome by selecting a specially designed window that is highly energy efficient, very easy to operate and replicates the look of the original windows. Of critical importance, the windows received approval from the local historical commission!
The next challenge was how to pay for them.
Integrating Multiple Solutions
Funding energy efficiency upgrades is often the deciding factor on whether a project moves forward or is just added to a long facility wish list. On this project the owner of the apartments recently purchased the property so coming up with more cash to fund upgrades was a problem.
That problem was overcome by integrating a list of solutions that included incentives, rebates, deductions and financing options which ultimately made the project affordable. Those solutions are detailed here:
- PACE – Property Assessed Clean Energy – 20 year term, fixed rate financing repaid by a voluntary special assessment on the property tax
- Utility Company Incentives – covers a variety of energy efficiency improvements
- EPACT – Energy Policy Act, for qualifying energy efficiency improvements, a tax deduction of up to $1.80 per square foot
- Abandonment Tax Credits – those items removed or abandoned from the property when an energy efficiency improvement project is commissioned may qualify for a Personal Property Tax Credit
- Cost Segregation – accelerated depreciation schedules can be utilized for qualifying buildings
- Historical Building Tax Credits – historical buildings can qualify for tax credits based on the value and type of improvements made.
Other upgrades being considered on the project include a new heating system, roof-mounted solar (not visible from the ground), occupant sensor and daylight controls for lighting in common areas, fluorescent fixtures and halogen flood lights replaced with LED’s and of course a new roof that doesn’t leak and has insulation which was absent in the original!
While every renovation project has unique challenges that must be overcome, a historical building with a strong emphasis on maintaining the original look requires unique solutions. The before and after pictures on this project will not be impressive – which is by design! Alternatively, the comfort level for the tenants, before and after, will be most impressive!
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