U.Va. to Partner with City, County in Energy-Efficient Design Projects

July 22, 2009 — The University of Virginia will partner in some eco-friendly renovation projects through the new Local Energy Alliance Program, funded by a $500,000 award made to Charlottesville and Albemarle County by the Southeast Energy Efficiency Alliance.

According to the alliance, the proposal was selected because it is "designed to achieve unprecedented energy and water savings by retrofitting buildings and installing renewable technologies."

The Charlottesville-Albemarle proposal trumped those of 16 other localities to win the cash award, which was announced Monday by the city of Charlottesville. Assistant architecture professor John Quale, engineering professor Paxton Marshall and other U.Va. faculty members assisted in preparing the proposal.

The LEAP program includes a public-private partnership that will focus on building science, systems and usage behaviors. While the initial emphasis is on fostering energy efficiency, LEAP will help revitalize the local construction industry by putting people to work and will develop new economic sectors, businesses and infrastructure, according to the press release issued by the city.

Both Charlottesville and Albemarle are dedicating funds from the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant funding they will receive through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, which will give the LEAP program an additional $255,000 in start-up funding. Of that funding, $60,000 will come from the county.

More specific LEAP programs are expected to be announced by early 2010.

Though planning for specific projects is just beginning, the University will be participating initially in one project. Three U.Va. students are working this summer with Quale – director of the ecoMOD program, which has designed and built three modular homes that employ sustainable technology – to design and engineer "eco reMOD," a highly sustainable renovation project of a 1920s-era bungalow. That house is next door to the future site of the fourth ecoMOD house, also in the works, at the corner of Elliott Avenue and Ridge Street in Charlottesville.

The city will perform the construction work on eco reMOD using the student and faculty design, and a ceremonial kick-off for the project will be held this fall at the ribbon-cutting for ecoMOD4.

eco reMOD will remain open to the public as a demonstration project for two years, and will include office space for a future project that will be funded by the Southeast Energy Efficiency Alliance award.

— By Jane Ford