Things were getting a little steamy in the apartments of Claremont’s historic Union Block. Well, steamy in some…chilly in others.
“We had one zone for the whole building,” says owner Gary Trottier. “So while it was freezing in the stores on the first floor, they’d be dying in the units on the top floor.”
The 1897 Union Block is a landmark on the National Register of Historic Places. The first-floor is home to many Claremont small businesses. Most of the rental units on the second and third floors are occupied by low- to moderate-income residents.
Gary needed a way to make his 33,000 square foot building more comfortable and energy efficient in the 33 apartments and 6 retail spaces. He worked with the analysts at the Jordan Institute to sketch out efficiency measures. But finding ways to save money was easier than finding financing for such an overhaul in this economic climate.
Gary turned to the Enterprise Energy Fund, one of two revolving loan funds set up to finance green upgrades for large facilities. Run by CDFA and the Community Loan Fund, EEF is a low-interest loan and grant program available to businesses and nonprofit organizations to help finance energy improvements and renewable energy projects in their buildings.
CDFAs Municipal Energy Reduction Fund (MERF) is a revolving loan fund to help municipalities improve the energy efficiency of their municipal buildings, street lighting, water and sewer treatment facilities, and where appropriate, electrical distribution systems.
Gary received $675,000 in loans and $241,000 in technical assistance grants for his project. The cracks and drafts were plugged. The old boilers were replaced by high-efficiency pellet burners. A photovoltaic solar water collector was installed, as well as energy-recovering ventilators. Historic renovations were undertaken and upgrades to health, safety, and security were made.
Instead of paying $55,000 each winter in oil and steam, Gary will now only shell out $13,000 in clean wood pellets. The project is estimated to reduce the Union Block’s total energy consumption by 54%.
“I’ll be cash positive after one year,” he says.
Gary is standing in an apartment overlooking Claremont’s downtown. This room is just as comfortable as the street front stores below. “We used to have one zone,” he says pointing to a thermostat. “Now we have forty-two.”