Located in Highland Park, Michigan
60,000-sq.ft. office space
Annual Energy savings: 72,414 kWh
Annual Cash Savings: $16,293
Payback period: 2.5 years
Prevented 93,783 pounds of pollution
Environmental Contract Services
The Doorstep Homeless Shelter in Highland Park, MI, provides housing and food for those down on their luck in the Detroit area. The shelter also provides medical treatment, food, and housing for the mentally ill. With such a clear mission to serve the community, the Doorstep Shelter is a haven where residents find refuge and help. Judy Bugaiski, Controller of the shelter, explained, “As our logo suggests, we provide a way in and a way out. But in these times of economic hardships, nonprofit organizations must look into all operational expenses to save money without sacrificing the valuable services they provide to people in crisis.“ Shelters like Bugaiski’s rely heavily on donations. Without a reliable source of funding, these shelters need to be as cautious as possible with their operating budgets.
Bugaiski first learned about potential energy savings for the shelter when she was contacted by Tom Cleaver of Environmental Contract Services (ECS), an energy savings performance contracting company and a member of the EPA Ally program. An energy survey by ECS identified several low-risk, high-return, energy-efficient upgrades. Bugaiski soon realized that the upgrades were a wise investment that would generate substantial returns in lower energy bills. Because the shelter provides housing, especially during the coldest winter months, Bugaiski knew that improving the lighting and the heating systems, two of the largest energy users in the facility, would reduce operating costs.
Bugaiski hired ECS to perform the upgrades that had been recommended in the energy audit. ECS replaced incandescent bulbs, T-12 lamps, and magnetic ballasts with compact fluorescent lamps, T-8 lamps, and electronic ballasts. Bugaiski explained, “The new lighting system provided brighter light. Management, technical staff, and residents alike have commented favorably to the change. It is nice to know that technology can provide a bit of relief to those in need.” The cost to upgrade the lighting system was $7,500, but the shelter will save $5,073 per year.
Providing a helping hand, an ear to listen, and a warm heart is what the staff at the Doorstep Shelter have been trained to do. But they also want to provide a warm place for the homeless to stay. By replacing an old, low-efficiency boiler with a new, high-efficiency boiler, and by cleaning radiator traps in the rooms, Bugaiski and her staff provided residents with a warm, comfortable place to stay while reducing the shelter’s heating costs. The new boiler cost $25,100, but it saves Bugaiski $11,200 per year in heating costs.
Heavily dependent on donations, shelters such as Bugaiski’s must, by necessity, have tight operating budgets. Finding the financial resources for the upgrades was tough, Bugaiski said. Since she was commited to the idea of upgrading the lights and heating system, Bugaiski organized two fundraising activities-a Christmas donation fund and a benefit choir event. The money from the donations and ticket sales went straight to the energy upgrade budget. Once the word spread out, Bugaiski received additional private donations.
“What’s great about energy-efficient upgrades,” Bugaiski explained, “is that they don’t have to be done all at once. Each phase of the upgrade can be staged according to the available budget and immediate needs.” Initial upgrade costs can often be recovered in just a few years, so the incentive to install energy-efficient equipment is great. As Bugaiski learned, energy-efficient upgrades can increase the comfort level for residents while cutting energy costs--and that frees up money to help the homeless in other ways.
Bugaiski looks forward to continuing other energy-efficiency upgrades that the shelter desperately needs, but for that she says she must wait for more hearts to open up and donate to those in need.