Mid-Michigan Community Action Agency

Farwell, MI

Project Overview

Energy efficiency was one of the primary premises while designing and constructing the new facility for Mid Michigan Community Action Agency.  Everything from the furnace and heating units to the automated lighting was considered to maintain optimal efficiency measures on this state-of-the-art building. 

Project Strategy

Generally a building of this size would require four to five large furnaces to heat its 22,785 square feet.  However to ensure the best possible heating plan, 15 small high energy furnaces were installed to permit "zoning" areas.  This allows specific areas of the building to be warm or cool depending on its usage, number of occupants, and openness of a shared area.  Additionally, the furnaces are preprogrammed allowing for maximum use during the workday, while automatically being lowered during evening and weekend hours.  This not only saves the agency money on its fuel bills, but also lowers the overall consumption of fuel.  The furnaces are also designed with interchanges that process the air from outside of the building before getting to the furnace units.  This provides for tempered heat which further reduces the cost of heating. 

The building is also highly insulated in its walls and floors adding to the efficiency measures.  Through a valuable donation of the Styrofoam insulation from the Dow Chemical Company, the builder installed insulation in all of the outer walls and under the concrete slab.  This is usually provided around the outer six feet of the floor, but in this case the entire area was insulated.  "The ground temperature is at 55 degrees.  If you only insulate the outer area of the floor, you will still need to heat the middle area above the ground temperature.  Since we insulated the entire area we can now maintain the warmth from the ground up," states MMCAA Chief Executive Officer, Gary Gilbert. 

"The Granger Group not only delivered a high quality facility on a very tight schedule, you also offered an economical solution in line with our construction budget constraints that we could not find elsewhere."

Gary Gilbert, Mid Michigan Community Action, CEO

The lighting units are also programmed throughout the facility to further save on energy costs.  In some areas that are only used periodically, such as restrooms or storage rooms, the lights only come on when there's movement.  In other areas, the lights turn on and off at specific times that correspond with the workday schedule.  The building also possesses thermal windows, which absorb the sunlight from the outdoors, and provides passive heat into the building.  "There are windows throughout the facility allowing for us to receive the most natural lighting possible reducing our energy costs even more," stated Gilbert.  "We researched several options and found that employees actually work better in environments that have more natural lighting." 

According to Dave Peters, MMCAA Housing Services Director, "the agency promotes energy education with its customers in the housing programs and we decided that we can now role model what we teach.  Saving the company or homeowner on energy costs ultimately saves our community and state on fuel consumption--something that needs to be done globally especially in this time of high heating costs and concern for fuel supply in years to come." 

"One of the goals of building a new administrative complex was to save the agency in operational costs.  One of the main contributors to savings was our electrical and heating usage in six different locations," stated Jill Sutton, MMCAA Grants & Development Director. "We are so fortunate to have this new facility that will save us thousands of dollars in overall costs by combing all of our Clare County sites into one.  We can now use these savings to help even more families in need."