Innovations in Comfort, Efficiency, and Safety Solutions.
EMAIL INTERVIEW – Tammy Fulop and Ken Sinclair
Tammy Fulop is the Vice President of Energy and Sustainability Services at Schneider Electric. With 18 years in the industry, Tammy has led her team to successfully implement over 625 ESPC projects across the nation with total savings of more than $1.6 billion over the life of contracts. These projects have helped publicly funded entities make capital improvements and offered many benefits such as improved facility efficiency, occupant comfort, financial management and environmental protection.
are three main drivers that make modernizing historic buildings a
challenge. First, maintenance costs mount more quickly for historic
buildings. These costs rise significantly as buildings reach historic
status — and the older buildings get, the worse problems become.
Second, older buildings are rarely energy efficient or up to modern
building codes. Building codes change to adapt to new technology and
reflect the best safety information of the day, leaving many historic
buildings out of date and not up to code within years of their
dedication. Finally, there is a perception that modernizing historic
buildings and aging infrastructure can be cost prohibitive. These
variables can create a lot of competing priorities and confusion about
the best way forward.
Sinclair: What makes historic buildings more difficult to upgrade compared to newer buildings?
buildings such as city halls and county courthouses are community
landmarks. For citizens, they represent nostalgic touchstones. For
visitors — and potential new citizens — they serve as a calling card to
the community’s character. Though they’re a community asset, historic
buildings are also a drain on resources due to outdated equipment and
decades-old construction practices that rarely meet modern building
codes. Often, municipal staffs simply don’t have the expertise needed
to update these facilities in a way that protects their historic
architectural design. The complexity of balancing modernization and
historical preservation can often feel at odds and become a burden that
stalls these projects. As a result, deferred maintenance issues mount
to the point that some buildings simply get shut down — or torn down —
rather than renovated properly.
Sinclair: Can you describe Schneider Electric’s approach to historic renovation?
Electric’s approach to historic renovation is to be very cognizant of
how the building is used by the community and to balance modernization
needs with the aesthetic appeal that means so much to local residents.
We recognize that small details can have a big impact. As an example,
we work hard to preserve grand chandeliers. These hallmarks of historic
buildings can often be retrofitted with new LED bulbs to restore
original character while substantially reducing annual energy and
maintenance costs. We find that the most successful improvements
balance the demands of building codes, functionality, efficiency and
Sinclair: Can you provide an example of a municipality that has successfully modernized its facilities while maintaining its historic integrity?
Electric has worked with a number of municipalities including Elmore
County, AL to renovate inefficient buildings while protecting the
historic architectural appeal. Elmore County faced a number of deferred
maintenance issues in its ornate and historic courthouse including
drafty windows, outdated heating and cooling systems, antique lighting
and minimal information technology infrastructure. Using an energy
savings performance contract (ESPC), Schneider Electric transformed
five of Elmore County’s critical buildings with modern energy
conservation technologies including LED lighting, HVAC retrofits,
building automation systems, building envelope improvements and more.
The project will reduce the county’s annual utility budget by 38
percent, which equals more than $4.4 million in savings over the life
of the project. By reinvesting these energy savings into renovations,
the county was able to tackle the modernization needs of the historic
courthouse. At the courthouse, the renovation includes swapping
open-flame gas heaters and AC window units for a new centralized HVAC
system with building controls, updating the original windows for better
efficiency, and restoring antique lighting with new LED technology.
Sinclair: Has Schneider Electric worked with any buildings on the National Register of Historic Places list?
we have deep experience in this area. Most recently in Holland,
Michigan, Schneider Electric’s engineering team worked closely with the
local Historical Society to create a comprehensive plan to update
Holland City Hall while maintaining the historic grandeur of the
building. Window retrofits were an important aspect of the efficiency
plan and a highly visible architectural element. The Historical Society
provided archive photos to help the team design a historically accurate
solution. The color, trim, weatherproofing, tint and mullions were all
carefully considered before fabricating the custom window solution.
These efforts will restore the historic character of the front fašade,
which lost its original windows in an earlier renovation, thus
improving the overall aesthetic of the building.
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