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Economic Development Corp Approves Energy Conservation Grants

DETROIT -- The Economic Development Corp. of the City of Detroit voted Thursday to approve $648,000 in SmartBuildings Detroit matching grants to make energy-saving improvements at Cobo Arena, the Cobo parking garage, Wayne State University, Grand Trunk Pub and the Charles Condominiums.

This set of grants is expected to leverage $3.76 million in additional investments from the building owners or other sources, for a total of $4.4 million in energy-saving improvements. Grantees will monitor and report their actual energy cost savings from the completed work to the EDC.

The Detroit Regional Convention Facility Authority will use its $164,000 grant to help pay for energy efficiency improvements to Cobo Arena and the Cobo parking garage. In total the Convention Authority expects to make $2.75 million in energy-related upgrades, including insulation, LED lighting and motion-detector controls, and other items. None of the work was included in an earlier SmartBuildings grant to the Authority.

Wayne State University is going to make $1.39 million in energy efficiency improvements to seven buildings, replacing steam traps, installing controls to conserve water and making other updates to heating and cooling systems. Grant funds will pay for $380,000 of the cost -- also extending the scope of work from a previous grant.

The owners of Grand Trunk Pub expect to use their $32,437 in grant funds to help pay for new LED light fixtures, improved insulation throughout two buildings, replacement of AC units and a kitchen hood heat capture system. Total cost of the improvements is estimated at $129,750.

"These grants show how we are working with both small businesses and large, anchor institutions to make substantial energy cost savings," said project manager Scott Veldhuis.

The EDC also approved a change in the program funding guidelines which will allow grants to pay for a higher percentage of work repairing windows in historic structures. The change in the rules allowed the Charles Condominium Co-owners Association, which manages the condominiums at 500 Willis St., to apply for a SmartBuildings grant at a 1:1 match for window replacements.

The EDC approved a $71,500 grant to help defray the cost of installing energy-efficient windows; grant funds will also be used to insulate boiler system pipes at a 3:1 match. Total cost of the project is estimated at $145,000.

The boundaries of the program include the Central Business District, Midtown, New Center, the Eastern Market, the East Jefferson and Riverfront Corridor, all the Detroit Works Demonstration Areas, Southwest Detroit and other specific areas, as well the sites of most of the city's major educational and health care institutions.

Commercial building owners may apply for grants totaling up to $100,000 for eligible energy-saving projects. Applicants will generally be required to leverage grant funds 3:1 with money from other sources. Projects must be completed by March of 2013. In general, any improvements identified in an energy assessment for the building are eligible. These might include:

• Building Enclosure - Insulation and weatherization, glass replacement.
• Building Systems – Interior and exterior lighting and electrical, HVAC, low flow water/plumbing.
• Alternative Energy Generation - Solar panels, geothermal, wind, and water systems

More information about the SmartBuildings Detroit Program and how to apply for a grant are posted on

The EDC is implementing the SmartBuildings Detroit Program using a $10 million U.S. Department of Energy grant to encourage the installation of energy-saving improvements for commercial, institutional and public buildings in downtown Detroit to optimize the performance of city real estate. The program leverages other incentives and energy optimization programs available to commercial property owners. SmartBuildings Detroit is part of the statewide BetterBuildings for Michigan Program.

BetterBuildings for Michigan uses a community approach to deliver energy-efficient improvements for homes and businesses by providing access to incentives and affordable loans. The program is supported by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and developed by the Michigan Energy Office; Michigan Saves; the City of Grand Rapids; the Economic Development Corporation of the City of Detroit; and the Southeast Michigan Regional Energy Office.

Detroit Economic Growth Corp. is a non-profit organization that serves as the lead implementing agency for business retention, attraction and economic development initiatives in the city of Detroit. DEGC is led by a 60-member board comprised of business, civic, labor and community leaders. Its 40 professionals provide staff services for key public authorities that offer tax credits and other forms of financing for projects that bring new jobs or economic activity to the city.

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