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My Building Is Too Old!



Every now and then you’ll hear the objection that it’s too hard to make older buildings energy efficient.  I think that's one of the silliest objections I've heard for a couple of reasons, and after thirty years in the business and hearing just about everything, here are some ways to handle it. 

  1. One of the more comedic ways you could counter this objection is to say something like "Well, it's funny you should mention that. The oldest building in the United States to receive an ENERGY STAR was a bank branch in Cambridge, MA built in the 1800s.  How old is your building?”  Of course, most of the people raising this objection are talking about buildings built in the ‘80s or ‘90s.  Sometimes even the ‘00s.
  2. You’ve got to remember how buildings were constructed back in the day. Most of them are made out brick with really thick walls, great thermal mass and smaller windows.  They might not have the curtain wall technology of newer buildings; however, they have excellent insulation potential.
  3. Because a building is older there’s a greater chance that the mechanical systems are completely retrofit from the time they were built until the present. As a result, you’ve got the best of both worlds – an incredible thermal envelope and mechanical systems that are more likely as new or even newer than a building constructed more recently.
  4. The EPA has done a study of buildings and found that the age of a building is not significantly correlated with energy performance. I’d also encourage your prospects to visit the ENERGY STAR registry of labeled buildings and take a look at the years many of them were built.  There are now over 20,000 of them and age isn’t a discriminating factor.

So as much as you'd think the older building excuse might be a problem, it's just that – an excuse.  If someone frets about it during your pitch or brings it up in later discussions, don’t hesitate to put it to bed.

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Posted by Mark Jewell