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Posted on Mon, Feb 4, 2013 : 4:33 p.m.

Businesses seek assistance from city of Ann Arbor for $543K in energy efficiency upgrades

By Ryan J. Stanton

Five private properties in Ann Arbor could be in line to receive financing help from the city for energy efficiency upgrades ranging from new LED lights to solar roof shingles.

The Ann Arbor City Council is expected to vote on a resolution Monday night, Feb. 4, to authorize up to $1 million in bonds through the city's Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program.

The PACE program, which the city launched last year, is designed to help businesses finance the costs of energy efficiency improvements and renewable energy systems.

Through the PACE program, qualifying property owners are able to borrow money for energy efficiency projects ranging from $10,000 to $350,000 and then pay back the loans through special assessments added onto their tax bills for up to 10 years.

The development and implementation of the PACE program was funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy.

Documents provided to the City Council by City Treasurer Matt Horning indicate the following five applications for projects totaling $543,000 are pending for participation in the program:

  • Arrowwood Hills Co-Op, 2566 Arrowwood Trail — solar shingles on one apartment building, exterior lighting upgrade to LED, and the following for the clubhouse: new HVAC equipment, insulation, occupancy sensors and lighting upgrade ($133,440)
  • Big Boy, 3611 Plymouth Road — HVAC upgrade, lighting upgrade, cooking equipment replacement with energy efficient equipment, controls ($97,969)
  • Bivouac, 336 S. State St. — Interior lighting upgrade ($15,988)
  • Goodyear Building, 118-124 S. Main St. — HVAC replacement (boilers and air conditioning units), lighting upgrade ($230,000)
  • Kerrytown Shops, 403 N. Fifth Ave. — Lighting upgrades in tenant areas and common areas ($65,600)

Ed Shaffran of Ann Arbor-based Shaffran Companies wants to add a fourth and fifth story to the Goodyear Building on the west side of Main Street between Washington and Huron.

The council meets at 7 p.m. on the second floor of city hall, 301 E. Huron St.

In addition to voting on the PACE bonds, the council will consider rezoning property along Ellsworth Road to allow a 24-unit townhouse project to move forward.

The city's Planning Commission already voted 7-0 in January in favor of the site plan for the proposed Summit Townhomes development at 2081 E. Ellsworth Road.

Now that the property has been officially annexed into the city from Pittsfield Township, the next step in the process is the rezoning. The council also needs to approve the site plan.

City Planner Matt Kowalski said the site plan is scheduled to come to council for approval on Feb. 19, but it could be delayed if the project hasn't yet received necessary approvals from the Washtenaw County Water Resources Commissioner's Office by then.

The council's meeting packet also includes a copy of the Downtown Development Authority's audit for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2012, a color-coded map showing tentative road construction projects planned for 2013, and a report on projects funded by the city's street millage in 2012.

Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for Reach him at or 734-623-2529. You also can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to's email newsletters.


Roger Kuhlman

Wed, Feb 6, 2013 : 4:11 a.m.

What is the hard evidence that any of these efficiency measures are effective in reducing energy consumption at a reasonable cost? Solar shingles are a joke--it is nothing but environmental posturing. At this time solar energy production is incredibly expensive, inefficient, and its manufacture and fabrication processes have very negative environmental side-effects. We need to reduce our energy consumption but the way to do this is not through greenwashing and PR campaigns.

Linda Peck

Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 2:37 p.m.

I do not support paying for private business to upgrade their properties out of money I send to the City of Ann Arbor. I would rather see our police and fire departments beefed up, and our roads made better. If some business are given money to upgrade their buildings, why not all businesses?


Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 1:55 p.m.

They once again talk about LED lighting as a solution to energy efficiency. Yes, it is a solution, but not the best solution. A better solution for many key applications is Magnetic Induction Lighting, which is cheaper up front, lasts 2-5x as long (100,000 hour life --11+ years at 24-hour usage) and has a 10 year guarantee. The city of San Diego, CA, has gone to Induction lighting for its street lamps because it was a much more viable alternative than LED lighting. It doesn't have the harsh glare of LED, being much closer to natural sunlight for better visual acuity. If you want to stretch dollars from a grant, do not go the LED route, go the Induction route. And you will get a better light, friendlier to the eyes. And it has no special production or disposal requirements because of harmful, toxic components, thus from a sustainability standpoint is the way to go.

Lets Get Real

Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 12:42 p.m.

Went to an informational session about a year ago about PACE. Spent hours trying to get call backs from the woman in charge - she works from two different locations with two different phone numbers. Filled out all of the paperwork pertinent to new roof, added insulation, and energy effecient windows estimated at $22,500 - which I never could have afforded without the benefit of the longterm loan program PACE offers. I was rejected, told all of those things wouldn't make significant enough of a difference to warrant the threshold of monetary savings the program's formula calculated as acceptable. Are you kidding? You're telling me interior lighting will save more than roof, windows and insulation. Where are the cost/benefit figures that show how much each of these projects will save? Let us see where the our money is being spent to the best benefit, instead of going into the pockets of the best connected friends of the politicians. Does the $3million Goodyear Building, Mr. O'Neal (Kerrytown), or Mr. Shaffran need more city money? An how do new construction projects meet the mission of PACE - designed to refit existing buildings for better energy effeciency?


Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 4 p.m.

Sorry for the run around from the city. Unfortunately, civil servants in A2 are difficult to work with. However, Energy efficient lighting (LED) IS a MUCH quicker payback than practically anything else if the lights are on multiple hours/day

Ryan J. Stanton

Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 3:20 a.m.

I got Ed Shaffran to comment on the Goodyear Building upgrades. He says the energy efficiency items are not connected with his proposal to add an addition onto the building. "We've placed the condo aspect of the project on hold," he said. "Having a tough go at making the numbers work. Too expensive to build. The sales price exceeds what I understand the market will bear." Regarding PACE, he said he's been looking into it for more than a year. "I think the program has some merit," he said. "Makes for a great opportunity to both improve a building and at the same time save and conserve energy."

Ryan J. Stanton

Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 12:26 a.m.

I noticed the 403 N. Fifth Ave. address is the same address where the Lunch Room is opening its new restaurant (this was just announced about an hour ago):


Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 12:21 a.m.

Leveraging up front money for long term payback projects is what big government should be "encouraging" banks to do. Or do themselves if the banks fail to.. Saving precious resources through conservation is a big step towards sustainability. Maybe the DDA could practice that concept or just dissolve. It makes more "cents" for the city to back large ticket projects like solar farms and hybrid fleet that the community can benefit roi from than individual projects for a few business buddies. How about a fully funded solar home loan program for ANY city taxpayer? Or solar/geothermal HVAC lighting loan program for ANY business in town? Maybe there won't be enough borrowing clout left to build unwanted DDA landscapes or unnecessary train stations or countywide transit systems or other works of city art .....


Mon, Feb 4, 2013 : 10:32 p.m.

Why does the city have such a program? If these upgrades are economically feasible then the businesses can pay for them. If they are not economically feasible then they simply shouldn't be done.


Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 6:27 a.m.

I get it Ryan.......kind of like perpetual motion.............

Ryan J. Stanton

Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 3:15 a.m.

The projects are expected to more than pay for themselves. The idea is the savings the businesses see in their energy bills will allow them to repay the city for the loans, and the city then can make other loans, and the cycle continues. It's the upfront cash that makes it hard for businesses to take these on by themselves sometimes. Doesn't mean it's not fiscally wise.


Mon, Feb 4, 2013 : 11:23 p.m.

It's a LOAN don't get your panties in a bunch. Maybe you haven't noticed what's happening to the world due to excessive energy use, but most of us have. Energy efficiency is good news for the city, the environment, and you.

Vivienne Armentrout

Mon, Feb 4, 2013 : 10:07 p.m.

Ryan, are you able to provide a downloadable file (maybe pdf) of the exhibit that presumably lists the projects? I don't understand how this PACE program applies to two new stories on a downtown building.

Ryan J. Stanton

Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 12:25 a.m.

I'm checking to see if the energy efficiency upgrades to the Goodyear Building are tied to Ed's project. Right now I can't say one way or another whether the upgrades would be done during the addition project or separately. There's a doc listing the five PACE projects in the legistar link in the article but I don't have anything more than what's in this story at the moment.