Denver NGO's idea: energy retrofit entire block of small buildings to reduce cost per building

From Atlantic Cities writer Emily Badger: "Single- and multi-family residences are pretty well covered on the energy retrofit market.  At the other end of the built environment exist the Pentagons and the Empire State Buildings of the world, the really big commercial towers and sprawling office complexes.  'Those larger single-owner entities are pretty much a slam dunk,' says Chad Riley, the director of finance and strategy for a Denver-based nonprofit called Living City Block. "But then there is a gaping hole in the middle of the retrofit market. An estimated 95 percent of commercial building owners in the U.S. own small to mid-size properties, buildings of no more than 50,000-100,000 square feet, perhaps with a shop on the ground floor and a handful of offices or rental apartments above. These buildings take up 45 percent of all the commercial square footage in the country, and they consume an equally large share of America’s annual commercial energy use.

"Living City Block’s basic concept is simple. Small buildings rarely have the resources to do a serious retrofit. For most of them, the idea is cost-prohibitive. But what if you combined a small building with 10 more like it? If all of those building owners got together to order high-efficiency water heaters in bulk, or to collectively replace one-thousand windows, could they achieve economies of scale?

"Living City Block is testing this idea on two blocks of the Lower Downtown neighborhood of Denver, with a second site in Brooklyn.  Living City Block is aiming, according to its mission statement, for nothing short of a 'replicable, exportable, scalable and economically viable framework for the resource efficient regeneration of existing cities, one block at a time.'"  Full article here.