Retrofits in the News

Around the world of retrofits this week we found several inspiring developments in the news.

Retrofitting Castles in Wales

The National Trust of Wales reduced energy use by 43 percent in just two years, largely by retrofitting more than 100 of the country’s castles, mansions, farms, holiday cottages, and other buildings the trust owns. The National Trust is a charity that protects cultural and natural heritage throughout the UK. The retrofits included better heating, lighting and energy saving systems, along with heat pumps and insulation and more than 0.5MW of solar and hydro electricity.

To learn more about retrofitting these older buildings, read the daily blog of National Trust of Wales Environmental Advisor Keith Jones.

See an article about the Trust’s retrofits and other energy saving projects in The Guardian

Watch the video: National Trust, saving energy in historic buildings.

Energy Efficient Apartments in Harlem

Stateside, New York City building owners in Harlem are leveraging a combination of private and government funds to do deep energy retrofits on apartment buildings, starting with two apartment buildings at 1890 and 1990 Lexington Avenue. Urban American Management, which manages the apartment buildings, worked with Harlem Community Development Corporation’s (CDC) Weatherization Assistance Program, which provides services to make older buildings in Harlem more energy efficient and comfortable for residents. CDC also provides grants, from federal stimulus money and technical assistance to retrofit residential buildings

“All of our energy reduction efforts, including sub-metering, should eliminate more than 10 million pounds of CO2 emissions and other harmful greenhouse gasses. It will be equivalent to taking more than 900 hundred cars off the road,” says Joshua S. Eisenberg, a principal at Urban American Management. Read more in Amsterdam News.

IBM Snags Dashboard Contract with GSA

IBM announced last week that the company has won a U.S. General Services Administration contract to develop and install advanced smart building technology in 50 of the federal government’s highest energy-consuming buildings.

IBM will connect GSA’s building management systems to a central cloud-based platform, allowing faster analysis and more informed decision making, improving efficiency and saving up to $15 million in taxpayer dollars annually, according to IBM’s press release.

GSA owns nearly 182 million square feet of office space nationwide. GSA’s plan to meet the requirements of President Obama’s Executive Order requiring federal building to be net zero by 2030 includes a goal of reducing energy consumption by 30 percent by 2015.

Eventually GSA will use data from such energy monitoring dashboards to save energy and reduce building operating costs in GSA’s entire inventory. For more information, see the story on

Check out the GSA’s video explaining how dashboards “communicate on a human scale to turn efficiency into a personal act.”

Hawaii Art Museum Reaps Energy Dividend

Hawaii Energy gave the Honolulu Art Museum a $346,026 dividend last week for its earlier investment in its heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system and control systems. The energy efficiency improvements reduced the museum’s electricity consumption by 28 percent, which saves an estimated $250,000 annually. The $1.5 million retrofit project, funded by a Honolulu Museum of Art donor and local financing, should generate enough energy savings monthly to cover the financing costs of the mechanical system improvements.  See the Hawaii Energy story on the retrofit.

For more information on how to implement deep energy retrofits that reduce energy use by more than 50 percent, please see RMI’s RetroFit Depot.