Energy efficiency renovations at Juneau’s homeless shelter and soup kitchen have led to some big savings in 2013.
Glory Hole Executive Director Mariya Lovishchuk said an initial assessment by professors with the University of Alaska Southeast’s construction technology program estimated the shelter would save about 30 percent on its electric and utility costs. So far the savings, according to Lovischuk, have exceeded those expectations.
“I’ve definitely seen the savings we were told we’d get,” she said. “It made a lot of sense to make these changes. I’m so glad this project is done.”
The weatherization improvements completed in early 2013 included a new boiler, exterior siding and insulation, new thermostat systems, replacing doors and windows, upgrading the shelter’s electrical system and adding energy efficient lighting.
From March through December of this year, the Glory Hole has spent just under $13,000 on its utility costs. It spent more than $25,000 during the same time period in 2012.
The renovation cost the Glory Hole $210,000, most of which was paid for by grants. The Rasmuson Foundation was the single largest contributor, donating $120,000, and $55,000 was secured by Juneau’s legislative delegation. The rest, said Lovishchuk, came from individual contributions and the Glory Hole’s general fund.
“Once I started giving people figures on what we spend on utilities, everyone was very supportive,” she said.
Friends in need
Robin Gilcrist and Marquam George, both professors with UAS’ construction technology program, were the first ones to meet with Lovishchuk to evaluate the Glory Hole’s energy efficiency. Gilcrist said one of the first thing they did was a blower door test, where a machine is hooked up inside the building and removes air to gage air changes per hour.
“We were able to take the information gathered from that and our walk-through observation and put the info into a software program that told us where the best energy savings could be found,” Gilcrist said.
Gilcrist and Marquam, who retired last spring, worked for the Glory Hole pro bono as part of their university service. Gilcrist said she’s always been a “big supporter of the Glory Hole” and its role in Juneau.
“What they do is very needed in our community, and I was privileged to do what I do professionally for an organization I believe in,” she said.
Gilcrist said one of the challenges of weatherization projects is balancing “how much money you put into an energy retrofit compared to the savings that will come back.”
Even with the grant money, Lovishchuk said the Glory Hole didn’t have the funds for everything it needed — at first.
Chad Strong, a project manager with Northwest Pacific Erectors, oversaw the renovations. When he and company Vice President Chris Gilberto looked at the recommended improvements, their initial cost estimate exceeded the Glory Hole’s budget. So they decided to provide everything at cost, Strong said.
“It was a great project for us to work with Mariya, as well as the Rasmuson foundation and other supporters in the community, to help extend the life of the building,” he said. “We relish the opportunity to work on projects that benefit the community as a whole.”