Since 1996 I have owned a two-story mixed-use commercial building. This is my entire real estate “empire,” upon which I have worked extensively to retrofit my building toward net zero. I call her Overlook Corner and she was built in 1910.
Besides the solar, which I will describe in a couple of sentences, I replaced all of the residential windows with thermal insulated windows, added adjustable window shades throughout, and replaced all of the appliances with high Energy Star score ones.
We put on a new 40-year TPO cool roof over added roof insulation, installed 100% LED lighting and ceiling fans in all four apartments, and removed a total of 8 electric resistance heaters and replaced them with natural gas furnaces. Later, we installed an indoor bike rack for eight bikes along with outdoor bike racks for visitors, installed a large green roof over the flat roof portion of the building, along with building a south-facing 250sf 100% passive solar greenhouse on the residential floor, and replacing the existing parking lot with pervious pavers and turning it into a lovely courtyard for outdoor eating and drinking.
The four small storefronts were rented to local small businesswomen, including a restaurant/grocery, green pet supply store, hair salon and neighborhood indoor-outdoor tavern. I also added awnings on the commercial space and planted street trees that shade the west residential windows from strong summer afternoon sun. I also have been removing all of the old vinyl floors and replacing them with cork and linseed oil based Marmoleum, and installed recyclable carpets throughout.
As far as solar goes, for her 100th birthday in 2010, I gave Ms. Overlook Corner a 13.3Kw rooftop PV solar system that provides approximately 25% of the building’s electrical demand on an annual basis. Overlook Corner has been in two or three solar tours since then.