Southfield-based 1-800-LAW-FIRM has invested $1 million in clean energy improvements — including four, roof-mounted wind turbines, 550 solar panels, and electric vehicle charging stations — at its headquarters, and will unveil the upgrades during a private event today.
“Our company is socially conscious, and we’re strategically located where we might inspire other people to do similar things,” says Ari Kresch, CEO and founder of the firm, located at the Lodge Freeway/M-10 at Lahser. “We’re kind of a pioneer in doing this in a relatively urban environment, and mistakes are probably going to be made by the first adopters. I’m fully ready to assume that risk because I know that without first adopters, you don’t get second adopters.”
Kresch says when he first purchased the 100,000-square-foot building about three years ago, he was met with a 1970s infrastructure that used single-pane glass and an inefficient air conditioning and heating systems that resulted in a tremendous amount of heat loss.
Since then, the company has been making improvements on a rolling basis, installing double-pane glass with window tinting that prevents the building from excessive heating during the summer months.
The most recent upgrades were completed as part of the state’s first privately funded Property Accessed Clean Energy project, which allows property owners to borrow money through municipal financial districts to finance energy retrofits and repay the loan through an annual tax on their property bill for up to 20 years.
While traditional commercial loans generally have terms of only three to five years, many clean energy projects don’t pay off for eight to 15 years, according to Lean & Green Michigan, a statewide program that allows local governments to facilitate long-term financing for clean energy projects via property taxes.
Additionally, the firm received an immediate tax credit of about $300,000 and expects to generate $40,000 to $45,000 worth of electricity on an annual basis, Kresch says. “At the end of 10 years, we expect this investment to be fully paid off, and that we’ll be generating electricity for more than another 20 years.”
Kresch says the firm is encouraging the conservation of renewable energy by providing no-cost charging to anyone that works in the building. In addition to 1-800-LAW-FIRM’s 50 employees, the building is also home to Hire Counsel and the future offices of Congresswoman-elect Brenda Lawrence.
IN OTHER GREEN NEWS, global retailer IKEA announced today it will expand the rooftop solar array on its Canton Township location by approximately 25 percent, starting this spring. The store will install the new panels atop the 44,000-square-foot expansion that began in September.
The solar addition will produce 287,490 kWh of electricity annually for the store, Including the existing system, IKEA Canton’s solar installation will generate about 1.4 million kWh of clean electricity each year, the equivalent of reducing 984 tons of carbon dioxide, eliminating the emissions of 207 cars, or powering 135 homes.