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Title: Better Buildings Neighborhood Program: BetterBuildings Lowell Final Report

The City of Lowell set four goals at the beginning of the Better Buildings Neighborhood Program: 1. Improve the Downtown Historic Park District’s Carbon Footprint 2. Develop a sustainable and replicable model for energy efficiency in historic buildings 3. Create and retain jobs 4. Promote multi-stakeholder partnerships The City of Lowell, MA was awarded $5 million in May 2010 to conduct energy efficiency retrofits within the downtown National Historical Park (NHP). The City’s target was to complete retrofits in 200,000 square feet of commercial space and create 280 jobs, while adhering to the strict historical preservation regulations that govern the NHP. The development of a model for energy efficiency in historic buildings was successfully accomplished. BetterBuildings Lowell’s success in energy efficiency in historic buildings was due to the simplicity of the program. We relied strongly on the replacement of antiquated HVAC systems and air sealing and a handful of talented energy auditors and contractors. BetterBuildings Lowell was unique for the Better Buildings Neighborhood Program because it was the only program that focused solely on commercial properties. BetterBuildings Lowell did target multi-family properties, which were reported as commercial, but the majority of the building types and uses were commercial. Property typesmore » targeted were restaurants, office buildings, museums, sections of larger buildings, mixed use buildings, and multifamily buildings. This unique fabric of building type and use allows for a deeper understanding to how different properties use energy. Because of the National Historical Park designation of downtown Lowell, being able to implement energy efficiency projects within a highly regulated historical district also provided valuable research and precedent proving energy efficiency projects can be successfully completed in historical districts and historical buildings. Our program was very successful in working with the local Historic Board, which has jurisdiction in the NHP. The Historic Board was cooperative with any exterior renovations as long as they were not changing the existing aesthetics of the property. If we were replacing a rooftop condenser it needed to be placed where the existing rooftop condenser was located. Receiving proper approval from the Historic Board for any external energy conservation measures was known by all the participating contractors. One area of the retrofits that was contentious regarded venting of the new HVAC equipment. Installing external stacks was not allowed so the contractors had to negotiate with the Historic Board regarding the proper way to vent the equipment that met the needs mechanically and aesthetically. Overall BetterBuildings Lowell was successful at implementing energy and cost saving measures into 31 commercial properties located within the NHP. The 31 retrofits had 1,554,768 square feet of commercial and multifamily housing and a total predicted energy savings exceeding 22,869 a year. Overall the City of Lowell achieved its target goals and is satisfied with the accomplishments of the BetterBuildings program. The City will continue to pursue energy efficient programs and projects.« less
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Resource Type:
Technical Report
Research Org:
City of Lowell, MA
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Country of Publication:
United States