Fast Five showcases energy efficiency work in Detroit 2030 District

Date:  October 21, 2020  
Time: All Day Event

Bedrock building at 615 W. Lafayette in Detroit

The Detroit 2030 District assists building owners and managers with reducing the environmental impacts of building construction and operations, as well as operating expenses. The three 2030 Districts in Michigan (Grand Rapids and Ann Arbor also have districts) are supported by the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) as grantees. In this Fast Five edition during Energy Awareness Month, MI Environment talks with Connie Lilley, executive director of the Detroit 2030 District, about the effort.

What is the Detroit 2030 District and how do energy consulting firms help implement energy efficiency improvements?

The Detroit 2030 District is a part of a national movement to create high-performance building districts to reduce the environmental impacts of building construction and operations while increasing owners' return on investment and promoting economic development in the community.

By joining a local 2030 District, property owners and managers receive free resources, networking and educational opportunities to reduce energy and water usage in their building, as well as transportation GHG emissions in their neighborhood. These strategies also reduce operating expenses and promote economic vitality. Some 2030 Districts also work on other sustainable initiatives such as indoor air quality and stormwater management with their building members.

The Detroit 2030 District currently has 24 million square feet committed and is working toward creating a carbon-neutral building district. There are 22 Districts across North America, and Michigan is the only state with three districts. The program is free for any commercial building owners and operators in Detroit, including multi-family and houses of worship.

Over 30 local businesses have joined the Detroit 2030 District to help fund the educational programs for building members. Energy consulting firms such as Energy Sciences realize the importance of the program and have signed on as a Professional Stakeholder. Helping to spread the word are people like Diana Nash, Client Solutions Consultant at Energy Sciences and co-chair of the Detroit 2030 District's Ambassador Program. In both roles, she works with building members to identify energy efficiency strategies to reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.

How did Bedrock get involved?

Bedrock, a full-service commercial real estate firm based in downtown Detroit has several buildings in the Detroit 2030 District, including 1001 Woodward, One Campus Martius, One Woodward Ave, 615 W Lafayette and more. Bedrock shares in the mission to reduce energy consumption in their downtown buildings and found such great results with energy efficiency improvements in their buildings that they are planning to add more buildings to the District's effort.

One of the energy efficiency initiatives Bedrock Detroit pursued involved working with Diana Nash at Energy Sciences to enroll several of their buildings into DTE Energy's Retro-Commissioning (RCx) standard program, which optimizes building performance with a free study of facilities. The program is an example of energy efficiency programs that Michigan utilities offer their customers.

How did DTE's program help with Bedrock's project?

The DTE RCx program offers a fully-funded study to optimize existing building automation systems (HVAC controls). The goal of the DTE RCx program is to identify and implement measures that meet specific eligibility criteria. To qualify for the standard program, the measures must have a simple payback period of 18 months or less.

Under the program, a substantial number of measures are eligible, which can result in significant energy cost savings. The program also offers various incentives based on the energy reduction calculations, and an incentive for program participation.

What kinds of results can businesses see after making improvements?

The DTE RCx program has a track record of reducing energy costs, typically in the 3 to 5% range. Additionally, by optimizing building control systems, the benefits include improved indoor comfort, extended equipment life, reduction in maintenance & operating costs, ensuring that equipment operations meet building owner expectations, and higher market values for the property as operating expenses are reduced.

Bedrock's improvements resulted in verified electric savings of 1,062,089 kilowatt-hours per year and natural gas savings of 1,394 hundred cubic feet per year. This led to energy cost savings of nearly $50,000 per year.

How can businesses and organizations get involved?

Building owners and managers, businesses, and organizations interested in joining the 2030 District effort can visit the Detroit, Grand Rapids and Ann Arbor websites.

To learn more about EGLE's energy-related programs, visit its Climate and Energy website or contact Julie Staveland at StavelandJ@Michigan.gov.

If anyone would like to learn more about the DTE RCx program, you can reach Diana Nash via email diana@esciences.us or via mobile phone (248)763-2275.

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