Adventures in Energy Efficiency: Daniel Beard Home Attic Upgrade

The owner of the beautiful 1821 Daniel Beard (“the Father of Scouting”) home in Covington, KY, has engaged our Home Performance Contracting Service to carry out a full workscope of energy efficiency improvements. Our Building Analyst, Dane Ervick, is busy overseeing and coordinating this multi-faceted project.

Last week, we were in the attic with our partners Insulating Sales and National Heating and Air working to bring it into conditioned space so that a new air handler could be installed. When work began, the attic was barely insulated:

Insulating Sales created a framed and insulated room so that the heating system won’t be fighting near-outdoor temperatures as it supplies heat to the rest of the home.

National Heating and Air insulated and sealed the new duct work and connected the air handler to an existing closed loop geothermal heating and cooling system.

The once uninsulated attic now features closed cell spray foam on the roof deck, fiberglass batts and rigid board insulation on the knee walls, and R-49 blown in cellulose on the attic plane behind the knee walls. These improvements will keep heat from escaping the home and make it easier for the air handler to operate. As always, we are installing all materials in compliance with manufacturer’s specifications and national fire codes.

Next up: Under the home in the crawl space!

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Forest Park Surpasses Milestone

Brings savings to over one hundred homeowners with Residential Energy Efficiency Program

Forest Park’s Residential Energy Efficiency Program surpassed its community goal of completing over 100 Home Energy Upgrades through the Greater Cincinnati Energy Alliance’s (Energy Alliance’s) Home Performance with ENERGY STAR® Program. The City of Forest Park has partnered with the Energy Alliance since March of 2011 to help its residents make whole-home energy efficiency improvements to their homes.

The partnership exceeded the community goal by improving the efficiency of 147 Forest Park homes.

Homeowners who committed to upgrading their homes’ efficiency received funding assistance to jump start their home energy upgrades. To encourage participation, Forest Park residents were able to access incentives from the Forest Park Environmental Awareness Program and the Energy Alliance’s low-interest GC-HELP loan to help finance their improvements.

Forest Park residents combined investment in residential energy efficiency improvements has totaled almost $1,000,000 and has generated over 7,500 hours of private sector labor, in addition to saving over 4 million kBTU annually through energy usage reductions.

These improvements have resulted in lower energy bills for those residents, increased home comfort and usability, and a reduction in their community’s carbon footprint. Andy  Holzhauser, Chief Executive Officer of the Energy Alliance, commented, “Partnering with the City of Forest Park has generated incredible value to Forest Park customers. More than a hundred residents have been able to improve their quality of living while creating ongoing savings to support their families. This is a great success for the community.”

With the homeowner’s permission, the Energy Alliance tracked and analyzed the homeowner’s pre- and post-upgrade utility consumption data for a 24 month period. To date, the Energy Alliance has reviewed the utility data of 44 residents and found that their home energy upgrades resulted in significant energy savings.

Forest Park community members who participated in the program reduced their actual energy consumption by an average of 20%, saving an estimated $400 or more per year on their energy bills.

Wright Gwyn, the Forest Park Environmental Program Manager, remains enthusiastic about this program, which he considers a very successful partnership for Forest Park. Gwyn noted, “Our programs are not isolated programs. They provide an environmentally educational experience in which residents see tangible results. A lot of people [in our community] are not only getting money upfront to make improvements, but they reap the benefits of long term savings as well.”

To recognize this milestone for the community, the Energy Alliance presented the City of Forest Park with an Energy Efficiency Leadership Award on October 7th, 2013 at their City Council Meeting.

About the Greater Cincinnati Energy Alliance (Energy Alliance)

The Greater Cincinnati Energy Alliance is a nonprofit economic development agency that drives investment in energy efficiency in Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky communities by providing education, project management, and innovative financing solutions. The Energy Alliance is funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and the Better Buildings Neighborhood Program of the U.S. Department of Energy.

About the Forest Park Residential Energy Efficiency Program

The Forest Park Residential Energy Efficiency Program is a project of the Forest Park Environmental Awareness Program, which is a department under the City of Forest Park.  The Environmental Awareness Program is committed to fostering a spirit of cooperation and shared responsibility among citizens, businesses, institutions, and governmental agencies towards the enhancement of local, regional, and global environmental quality.

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Building Cincinnati’s Art Community with Manifest Gallery

Energy efficiency might not always be visible, but it can be tangible.

When building performance improvement measures (like the installation of central air conditioning) help to transform a space, energy efficiency becomes visible.

In the case of the Manifest Creative Research Gallery and Drawing Center (Manifest), the results of their building performance improvements are certainly felt. This April, Manifest replaced baseboard heaters and the inefficient, disruptive, and ineffective window air conditioning units barely cooling their three galleries and office space. They installed an energy efficient central heating ventilation and air conditioning system (HVAC) through the Energy Alliance’s Better Buildings Performance Program.


Manifest was able to make this transformative improvement for their gallery and office with the Energy Alliance’s newly launched Building Communities Loan Fund, which provides loans designed to fund smaller scale energy efficiency projects for nonprofit and other organizations.

Manifest’s new functional and efficient heating and cooling unit was the very first project funded through the Building Communities Loan.

The results of this energy efficiency project will be felt by the men and women who work so diligently to accomplish Manifest’s amazing, multi-faceted mission, by the community they serve who enter their gallery and on site artist residency studio, and by the works of art hanging, standing, rotating, or even precariously perched in their gallery spaces. Technically the works of art don’t feel anything, but they still benefit from their newly climate controlled environment.

When nonprofit organizations spend less on energy, they have more to invest in their mission. With more resources available for their mission, our communities benefit.

Manifest’s new air conditioning unit will not only improve the comfort and usability of the galleries and offices. It has helped the gallery to expand their exhibition gallery space by fifty percent, and their overall space by thirty percent. These are visible results! This expansion has been made possible through a lease agreement with the owner of their building in East Walnut Hills on Woodburn Avenue.

Beginning in March of this year, Manifest became responsible for their heating and cooling costs. Because Manifest has taken the initiative to install the high efficiency HVAC system, those inevitable operating costs will be significantly reduced for the gallery, allowing them to more productively utilize those funds that otherwise would have gone towards cumbersome utility bills. In addition, because the Manifest team chose to install the updated HVAC system, the building owner has allowed them to rent the remaining quarter of the first floor for no additional fee for the remainder of their lease.

The Building Communities Loan

The Energy Alliance is committed to helping nonprofit organizations in Greater Cincinnati. Our role is to help organizations improve their facilities, both to care for the well-being of their staff and the communities they serve, and to lessen their energy bills. Savings on energy bills allow nonprofit organizations to have more money to invest in our communities.

The Building Community Loan was developed in partnership with the Cincinnati Development Fund, Inc. It was designed to help nonprofit organizations finance nonprofit energy efficiency projects and building performance improvements.

Nonprofit organizations and other institutions who first apply to the Energy Alliance’s Better Buildings Performance Program are eligible to apply for the Building Communities Loan. It can be used to finance up to $25,000 in energy efficiency improvements for commercial (nonresidential) spaces once there has been an energy audit completed.

Others call it mission driven lending – we call it common sense.

Simple energy efficiency improvements such as lighting retrofits and HVAC system replacements can cause a dramatic reduction in energy bills for commercial spaces. Energy efficiency improvements pay for themselves and can help nonprofit organizations to generate revenue through utility savings while improving the usability of their buildings.

Manifest, A Neighborhood Gallery for the World

Manifest Gallery is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit creative research gallery, drawing center, art book press, and residency for artists. Jason Franz, co-founder and executive director of Manifest, emphasizes that Manifest is “aneighborhood gallery for the world.”

Manifest Gallery is the answer to the question,
“What do we do for society as artists?”

The gallery is located in East Walnut Hills in Cincinnati, Ohio, and occupies the formerly vacant storefront property of 2727 Woodburn Avenue. Founded nearly ten years ago, Manifest was created by Jason Franz, Elizabeth Kauffman, and Brigid O’Kane to fill a void in Cincinnati. It was the answer to a question posed to students of art at Xavier University. “What do we do for society as artists?”

For a dilapidated building in a struggling neighborhood located near the Art Academy, Xavier University and the University of Cincinnati, the founding of Manifest was “perfect kismet,” according to Franz. It helped spark the revitalization of the neighborhood, engaged students, and offered the Greater Cincinnati exposure to museum quality art work.

“Everyone is disadvantaged when it comes to exposure to really great quality [art] work from around the world.”

Jason Franz, Executive Director, Manifest

Manifest’s mission is to engage the viewing public with new, insightful, and challenging creative works and to support the positive growth of the visual arts in the region. Manifest occupies “a unique place in the ecosystem” of the art world, as Franz explains. They are not driven by sales, and there is no red tape or agenda. Their juried shows have received submissions of high caliber work from artists representing eighty-seven countries around the world and all fifty states.

Manifest will begin its tenth anniversary year this coming fall. To raise funds renovate their additional exhibition space by a September deadline, Manifest has launched the Manifest More! fundraising campaign. Look for details on how to support their goal of even greater impact through visual arts at the Manifest More! campaign homepage.

“The center of the art world is everywhere, so why not here?”

The Greater Cincinnati Energy Alliance is proud to help further the mission and work of nonprofit organizations like Manifest Creative Research Gallery and Drawing Center. Organizations like Manifest benefit the community in such a myriad of ways. It is truly an honor to be a little part of that gift of artistic experience, economic development, community building, and the documentation of art for posterity.

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Forest Hills Schools are ENERGY STAR®-S!

In 2011, the Energy Alliance began a partnership through our Better Buildings Performance Program with the Forest Hills School District.

They engaged us to improve the energy efficiency of their facilities at Nagel Middle School and Turpin High School. We were excited to do so for many reasons. Making schools more energy efficient gives back to schools with increased revenue through utility savings; it reduces our region’s overall energy consumption, which improves air quality; and it sets an example for our future generations. 

In the case of Nagel Middle School, the impact was even greater. Nagel Middle School has the largest middle school population in Ohio, and its administrative and teaching team took their building’s improvements as a learning opportunity for their students by incorporating building efficiency science into the school’s curriculum. We thought that was pretty cool. 

“By individually metering and installing different lighting systems in each of our science classrooms, science teachers are able to demonstrate to their students how different pieces of equipment affect power consumption, and how the decisions we make about power consumption affect the world around us.”

Ray Johnson, Director of Business Operations, Forest Hills School District

We would like to congratulate Forest Hills Schools for their impressive and inspiring efforts to improve their facilities’ energy efficiency. They have been able to reduce their electrical consumption by 18% over the past few years. 8 of their 9 school buildings, which range in age from 13-54 years old, have been ENERGY STAR® certified for each of the last two years.

Back in May 2013, upon the completion of their energy efficiency projects, we presented a check to the Forest Hills School District. Dr. Forest Heis and Dr. Dallas Jackson accepted the check on behalf of the Board of Education, and the Department of Energy was present to further honor this achievement in energy efficiency.
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