SmartBuildings Turn Energy Savings into Economic Development


DETROIT — SmartBuildings Detroit has proven that the lure of lower energy costs is a terrific lever for generating economic impact. Since it was launched in November 2010, Detroit Economic Growth Corp.’s SmartBuildings energy conservation investment program has approved $8.1 million in total grants that have been matched more than 6-to-1 by companies, nonprofit organizations, and public institutions. That brings the total of energy conservation investment assisted by the program to $59 million.

The program has supported work on such high-visibility projects as the renovations of Cobo Center, Shed #5 in the Eastern Market, Newberry Hall, Presbyterian Villages Rivertown Neighborhood, and the Woodward Theatre.

The grants have also supported dozens of other lesser-known, but important lighting, heating, cooling, ventilation, or insulation upgrades in parking decks, retail stores, apartment buildings, and educational institutions, including Wayne County Community College District. To date, 58 projects have been completed, and 26 are expected to be finished in the next three months.

More than 14 million square feet of building space has been improved with the program’s assistance. Along with the clear benefit of the economic activity generated by the program, it is also saving money for the participating organizations. Some of the projects have reduced energy consumption by 15 to 40 percent. 

SmartBuildings Detroit is funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act by the U.S. Department of Energy and is part of the statewide energy conservation investment program, BetterBuildings for Michigan.