On Thursday, January 30th at Detroit Unity Temple in Detroit, Detroit 2030 District held its first event of the year with its House of Worship Green Team members. Presentations were made to a packed house of attendees eager to learn about saving on energy, water, stormwater while improving our environment in Detroit. The event included a networking session with lunch and three speakers opining on current opportunities for improving the building operations of houses of worship in Detroit.
Speakers Enlighten Audience on Ways to Save Energy, Consider Renewables and Finance Projects
Karanja Famodou, owner of Ryter Cooperative, spoke on the value of solar energy for driving down energy costs and creating one’s own energy from the sun. Mr. Famodou spoke of several projects in the area which have benefitted from getting partially “off the grid.” With the cost of solar energy continuing to decline and the return on investment (roi) becoming shorter, the consideration for installing solar energy is becoming more compelling.
Alan Deal, owner of Performance Engineering, spoke of the unique challenges posed to Houses of Worship. Most of the attendees have buildings of considerable age, some parts of their buildings are seldom if ever used and some houses of worship have declining membership with smaller budgets. It makes it difficult to budget for replacement of aging infrastructure, especially with longer payback periods for the more expensive infrastructure items (hvac, roofs, windows, etc.).
Deal made a point with lower natural gas prices, now is the time to truly consider embarking on more costly infrastructure projects. It’s generally assumed at some point in the future natural gas prices will increase. It’s also true project prices themselves continue to rise annually. Finally, there now exists advantageous financing options allowing building owners to spread out payments on larger infrastructure projects over 20-25 years to make repayment more manageable.
Detroit Unity Temple Used PACE Financing on LED Lighting, Building Insulation and Roof Repairs
Christian Koch, business development driver at Lean & Green Michigan, commented that Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing is a “long term, 100% financing mechanism available to non-profit (and for profit) building owners to pay for energy and water efficiency upgrades, renewable (solar, geothermal, etc.) installations and stormwater mitigation”. Lean and Green Michigan is the PACE Administrator for the State of Michigan, currently working with 26 counties and 15 cities (71% of Michigan’s total population) that have passed enabling legislation making this financing mechanism available to developers, redevelopers, commercial building owners and non-profit institutions with real estate assets. Wayne County became a PACE District in 2013.
Detroit Unity Temple is similar to so many other non-profits in Detroit. With a beautiful but older building, it needed infrastructure repairs and replacement of expensive items, including: roof, building envelope upgrades and LED lighting. Without waiting for a building capital campaign, CAPX savings or applying for an expensive short term commercial bank loan, the board sprang into action in discovering PACE.
Using PACE as an innovative, no upfront cost, non-recourse, property tax assessment payback mechanism, the most critical infrastructure projects were planned and PACE Express financing adopted to meet the building’s most pressing issues: improve interior lighting, eliminate water infiltration and improve building envelope energy efficiency. It is estimated savings from energy over the term of the loan will far exceed the entire cost of the project. While just at the beginning of the replacement and repair process, both church clergy and Board of Trustees are happy with the decision to use PACE financing for the described building improvements.
It was a sold out audience, information rich meeting for those in attendance at the Detroit 2030 District meeting Thursday. Detroit 2030 District is one of Twenty-Two 2030 Districts across North America working to create high-performance buildings. The District has many events planned for 2020 and plans on growing its membership, sponsors and involving more Detroit building owners interested in taking advantage of this free program all the way to 2030 and beyond. For more information visit www.2030districts.org/Detroit .
Robert Mattler, JD LLM LEED AP BD&C, is a sustainable financing specialist, consulting with building owners, developers, redevelopers, contractors, property managers and other commercial real estate professionals, on financing upgrades to all asset classes of non-residential real estate for resiliency and sustainability. A former Board Member of USGBC Detroit Chapter and current Ambassador for Detroit’s 2030 District, Robert employs Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing and other financial structures, allowing building owners to lower operating costs, increase building value and competition, lower greenhouse gas emissions, all without changing the owners’ goals of maximizing investment returns. Reach Robert at firstname.lastname@example.org or 248-762-4370 (cell).