Developers use energy efficiency loan program to upgrade historic buildings in Chattanooga’s Innovation District
“The best way to explain what we’re doing with these old buildings is that we’re taking a horse and carriage and turning it into a Tesla,” says Jimmy White, President of Urban Story Ventures in Chattanooga. “Looking at the numbers, these projects are justified ten times over.”
Jimmy credits Urban Story Venture’s success with integrating energy efficiency into new builds and retrofits to a three-part formula:
- Identify the opportunity for savings (lighting, HVAC controls, cooling towers, etc),
- Find a vendor who understands your objectives and has the skillset to execute (for Urban Story Ventures, Jake Marshall is a key vendor, and the team has a great relationship with EPB, Chattanooga’s power provider),
- Find the strategic funding partner (Urban Story Ventures used Pathway Lending’s Energy Efficiency Loan program to fund all four projects outlined below).
“Pathway Lending makes it easy to do business with them. Not only is their 2% rate impossible to beat, I know if I need anything or have a question, Brandon is just a phone call away,” says Jimmy. “Through our partnership with Pathway on these projects, we’ve gotten a lot accomplished.”
“We’re owners, operators and developers, which is unique in our industry,” says Jimmy. “When we see opportunities, we embrace the challenge by offering expertise to add value.”
Learn more about four iconic Chattanooga properties where Urban Story Ventures is using Pathway Lending loans to fund their leading-edge, energy efficient projects:
PROJECT OVERVIEW: JAMES BUILDING
Built in 1906, the 128,817 square foot James Building is one of the oldest skyscrapers in Chattanooga. With energy efficient upgrades, this more than century-old building is now ENERGY STAR rated.
“EPB is using the James Building as a model project for how office buildings should operate for both renovations and on new construction,” says Jimmy. “At night, this 12-story building is operating at 55 kWs. That’s unheard of for any building that size, let alone one that’s more than 100 years old.”
Energy Efficient Upgrades in the James Building:
• Cooling towers
• Control systems
Energy Savings at the James Building:
The James Building is a “model” customer for a commercial building. Their energy efficiency efforts have yielded average annual energy savings of over 250,000 kWh, and new building controls enable the property to participate in EPB’s pilot voluntary demand reduction program, “Power Savers,” without sacrificing tenant comfort.
PROJECT OVERVIEW: DOME BUILDING
One of downtown Chattanooga’s most iconic structures, the Dome Building was built in 1892 and originally housed the Chattanooga Times. Along with equipment upgrades and retrofits throughout the building, Urban Story Ventures also refurbished a dark, unused storage room in the basement, completely renovating the space into a high tech, climate-controlled gym the tenants love.
“Just like the James Building, the Dome Building is also ENERGY STAR rated,” says Jimmy. “The building is more than 125 years old and is operating more efficiently than 85% of buildings in the Southeast region.”
Energy Efficient Upgrades in the Dome Building:
• Cooling towers
• Control systems
Energy Savings at the Dome Building:
The Dome Building saw the most radical of any building featured in this article. The building controls, HVAC changes, and LED lighting have made this jewel of downtown consume 48% less kWh annually. Like the James Building, the Dome Building participates in EPB’s pilot “Power Savers” demand reduction program.
PROJECT OVERVIEW: EDNEY BUILDING
Built in 1969, the Edney Building’s 10 stories and 78,000 square feet of office space is now “the front door the Chattanooga’s Innovation District,” called the Edney Innovation Center.
Home to CO.LAB, The Enterprise Center, Society of Work, Tech Town, and dozens of startups, the Edney Innovation Center offers ten floors stories of upgraded space, and energy efficient systems that have earned another ENERGY STAR rated property for Urban Story Ventures.
“With our new HVAC controls, we have all these old buildings that can ‘talk’ to each other,” says White. “I can open my laptop and see where each building is operating and set the control points from anywhere.”
Energy Efficient Upgrades in the Edney Building:
• Cooling towers
• Control systems
Energy Savings at the Edney Building:
The Edney Building’s energy efficiency efforts have reduced their energy costs by 30% and enabled them to participate in the Power Savers program when appropriate.
PROJECT OVERVIEW: OSBORNE OFFICE COMPLEX
The partners at Urban Story Ventures have also used Pathway Lending energy loans to make upgrades at the Osborne Office Complex. For this sprawling business park, extensive lighting upgrades was the first project tackled.
“Just changing out light bulbs took electric bills from $85,000 down to $55,000 a month,” says Jimmy. “That’s $30,000 a monthly, or $360,000 a year. It’s the equivalent of taking 156 single family homes off the grid.”
Energy Efficient Upgrades at Osborne:
• Interior lights
• Exterior lights
Energy Savings at Osborne:
The Osborne Office Complex lighting project has saved over 2.5 million kWh since its completion, representing a 20% reduction in annual usage.
Why energy efficiency investments are an important tool for developers
“For each project, I look at what I bought the building for, how much am I putting into it, and how much is it worth at the end of the day,” says Jimmy. “Energy efficient upgrades vastly reduce our operating costs, thus making the property more valuable, and we can pass savings onto our tenants. Plus, it’s better for the environment and its good PR for our clients that are energy efficient and energy conscious.”
“EPB’s goal in Energy Services is to ensure our customers become informed electric power consumers. We don’t want any of our customers to buy more power than they actually need,” says Ann Eslinger EPB Commercial Energy Analyst. “Prior to the installation of LED lighting, upgraded HVAC and building controls, these buildings were buying more power than they needed. It’s been a pleasure working with Urban Story Ventures, and seeing their systematic deployment of new technologies to make these important properties models of wise electric power purchasing.”
“With Chattanooga under a magnifying glass, taking these initiatives when we own so much property is a matter of being a responsible leader in the development industry,” says Jimmy. “We’re hopeful others will see what we’re doing and follow so as a community we’re all doing the right thing.”
How to use Pathway Lending’s Energy Efficiency Loan program for your own projects
A Pathway Lending Energy Efficiency Loan is a great tool for developers, business owners, nonprofits and governmental entities looking to finance any investment in a fixed asset that provides significant reductions in energy, emissions, and/or utility consumption. Loans in this program range from $20,000 to $5 million and offer up to 100% financing for projects.