Elevator Building goes green(er) with solar upgrades

Developer Randy Lewarchik has always had his eye on green design. The East Riverfront's Elevator Building and the Cass Corridor's Brainard Apartments were both remodeled with recycled materials, grey water collection, double-paned windows, compressed foam insulation, U.V. reflecting roof coatings and gardens.

The two structures are becoming even more environmentally sustainable, as Lewarchik and SRI Energy prepare to install the first phase of 20-kilowatt solar panel systems on the roofs of both buildings. He hopes the solar panels will provide energy for all of the building's common area lighting, which would include hallways, parking lots, lobbys and laundry rooms. Eventually, Lewarchik says he hopes to install a total of 60-kilowatt solar panel systems on each building. "There will actually be solar carports in the parking lot, so they'll be really visible. And eventually, people will be able to plug their cars in the carports," he says."It will definitely help curb the carbon footprint for the building."

The solar panels are only the first step of a multifaceted plan for Lewarchik's plans to further integrate green design into his properties. "We were approved for a Smart Building grant, which is an energy-efficiency grant," Lewarchik says. The grant, which matches 25 percent of The Detroitist Group's energy-saving building updates, will provide at least $150,000 in funds. He's exploring the possibility of installing geothermal heating systems at both The Elevator Building and Brainard Apartments.

And the empty lot next to his apartments on Brainard Street? Lewarchik not only hopes to install a geothermal system in the ground, but he has plans to exercise his green thumb, as well. "We're planning on doing a very large tomato garden, like 150 by 100 feet, so I'm really utilizing that land," he says.

"This is a template that I'd like to further pursue with other properties," he says. "It's beautification, plus doing something with the land. It's a higher, better use."

Source: Randy Lewarchik, developer, Elevator Building and Brainard Apartments
Writer: Ashley C. Woods
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