Indianapolis nonprofits, small businesses save money with free upgrades

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INDIANAPOLIS – The Indianapolis Office of Sustainability announced Wednesday the completion of the City’s Better Buildings Near Eastside Neighborhood Commercial Sweeps Program.

The Program has provided energy efficiency upgrades for lighting and other conservation measures for 43 businesses and nonprofits on the Near Eastside of Indianapolis.

Mayor Greg Ballard joined program participants at Teachers’ Treasures, one of the organizations which participated in the program, for an event to highlight the combined savings achieved through the program.

“It’s not always the ‘green thing.’ That applies. No question. But it does save money in a lot of different ways for a lot of different people,” said Mayor Ballard.

The goal of the Sweeps program was to provide an average annual energy savings of at least 15% on utility bills for qualified businesses and organizations on the Near Eastside through free energy assessments and lighting retrofits.

The 43 small businesses and non-profit organization that participated in the program are expected to realize a combined annual average energy of savings of 17% amounting to combined savings of nearly $73,000 on utility bills on a yearly basis.

“It’s re-energizing.It’s that feeling that you get in this community that people care,” said Barb Sweeney, Executive Director of Teachers’ Treasures, a non-profit that received new, energy-efficient lighting.

Sweeney said they had been spending $20,000 a year on their utilities.

“For the churches and nonprofits, we’re hoping it helps them stay in the area, and for the businesses, we’re hoping to be able to watch them expand,” said Rachel Mattingly, an Indy-east Asset Development official who acted as a liaison between the organizations, businesses, and homeowners on the receiving end.

The grant also helped pay for energy improvements inside about 1,100 homes on the near east side.

“A lot of them are older folks, folks that are disabled, and very low-income families. You’re literally able to help them with insulation or with energy efficiency retrofits that can make the difference of keeping them in their homes,” said Joe BoWling, Englewood Christian Church.

In all, 31 businesses and 15 nonprofits on the Near Eastside received formal energy audits through the Sweeps program. Of these, 30 businesses and 13 nonprofits received energy efficiency upgrades – mainly new lighting and fixtures along with programmable thermostats and weather-stripping for doors and windows.

The Near Eastside Neighborhood Sweeps Program was funded through a $10 million grant received by the City’s Office of Sustainability in June 2010 from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Better Buildings Neighborhood Program. The Office of Sustainability contracted with Indy-east Asset Development, known as I•AD, to implement the Sweeps program. I•AD worked with energy consultants from Purdue University’s Technical Assistance Program (TAP) to offer free energy assessments to interested businesses and organizations.

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