- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 24, 2008

Property owners of about 400 private and government buildings in the Washington area announced yesterday that they would retrofit their buildings with energy-efficient features.

They plan to invest $175 million in the retrofits but gain energy savings of $36.5 million a year.

Buildings slated for the retrofits include the Washington Convention Center, much of the University of Maryland at College Park campus, the Brookings Institution headquarters and buildings belonging to real estate developer JBG Cos. in L’Enfant Plaza.

“What we want to do is be the Silicon Valley of clean energy,” said Herbert S. Miller, vice chairman of Chesapeake Crescent, a public-private organization that promotes energy efficiency and economic competitiveness in the District, Maryland and Virginia. The organization helped promote the building retrofits.

Low-energy lights, insulative glass, heat pumps and other devices in 75 million square feet of buildings listed in the announcement yesterday could reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the buildings by more than 20 percent, according to the Energy Efficiency Partnership of Greater Washington, which took the lead in obtaining retrofit commitments from building owners.

Virginia Tech organized the partnership last year with support from Pepco Energy Services and financier Hannon Armstrong.

Pepco audits buildings to determine how they can be retrofitted to use less energy and produce fewer emissions. The building owners are responsible for installing the energy-efficient equipment.

Hannon Armstrong pays for the equipment and installation. The building owners then pay Hannon Armstrong the value of their energy savings for an agreed number of years.

After the money is repaid, the property owners keep the retrofits and the energy savings. They also have the option of financing the retrofits themselves.

The Energy Efficiency Partnership of Greater Washington forgoes scare tactics about climate change and the extinction of polar bears, and instead brings “a hope-filled message” to its partners, said Executive Director Laurel Colless.

Retrofitting buildings “pays for itself and brings down your operating costs,” she said.

Local participants in the 400-building initiative include real estate developers Cafritz Co. and Western Development Corp. and government buildings belonging to the states of Maryland and Virginia, the District and the federal General Services Administration.

The Energy Efficiency Partnership estimates energy savings from the retrofits as the equivalent of removing 45,000 automobiles from the Washington area’s roadways.

Virginia and Maryland plan retrofits statewide. Among the 380 buildings in Virginia and 200 in Maryland scheduled for the modifications are Orioles and Ravens stadiums in Baltimore.

In a related move, Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, a Democrat, is scheduled to sign into law today a legislative package that includes a construction requirement for state buildings and schools to meet new energy efficiency standards.

He said the entire package would save Marylanders an average of $190 a year per household when it is fully implemented.

Property Lines runs on Thursdays. Call Tom Ramstack at 202/636-3180 or e-mail tramstack@washington times.com.

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