Free energy audits available for some

Published 11:09 pm Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Contributing Editor

Time is running out for downtown property owners in Washington to receive energy audits at no cost to them.
The energy audits, which can costs thousands of dollars, are the first step in applying for grants of up to $250,000 through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Those grants, available through the Main Street Program, helps downtown building owners and tenants generate jobs, create more efficient buildings through energy-savings initiatives and conserve natural resources.
Bianca Gentile, hired by the city last August as a special-projects researcher and grants writer, found a resource for the free energy audits as she carried out her duties.
“Unfortunately, this free energy audit offer is nearing completion. Fortunately, there are five businesses which have made use of this audit,” reads an e-mail from Judi Hickson, a volunteer with the Washington Harbor District Alliance.
Gentile, in a brief interview Monday, said about two weeks remain for interested parties to apply for the energy audits.
Scott Jay Campbell, an owner of The Lofts condominiums, said this about the energy audit he received:
“On Monday, April 12, we had an energy audit conducted on our building at 213 N. Market St. This free audit was arranged by Bianca Gentile, special projects. The Washington Harbor District Alliance (formerly DWOW) helped to publicize this opportunity to downtown building owners. … As property owners, we were asked to fill out a comprehensive questionnaire that detailed our current energy usage. It took about 30 minutes to complete. The auditors then toured our building, asking questions related to our energy consumption and collecting additional information. The auditors will issue a report detailing their recommendations for our building. (Generally such an audit costs about $5,000 and is the owner’s responsibility.)
“Bianca Gentile had discovered a rare opportunity for a free audit, offered through the state energy office. An energy audit is a fundamental requirement for establishing a baseline energy consumption level, and this allows for eligibility for any energy grants offered, through the State of North Carolina, or the federal government. These grants can pay up to 50 percent of the cost of updating and adding energy-efficient services to an existing building.”
Inner Banks Artisans’ Center, Ruff Kuttz, Greg Ward Photography, Century 21 The Realty Group and Dr. Mark McCoy, a dentist, were the other recipients of the first energy audits, Gentile said.
Gentile said she’s pleased with the response of downtown property owners.
“I’ve heard that very few communities have had such a favorable response,” she said.
Anyone interested in the energy-saving grants should contact Bianca Gentile at 402-6888 or the Washington Harbor District Alliance at 946-3969.