Will include insulation, state-of-the-art AC
As spring temperatures in the Methow Valley soared to summertime highs last week, the Twisp Valley Grange was making plans to become a refuge for valley residents from the heat.
The Twisp Grange was recently awarded a $241,909 grant to upgrade the old grange hall on Second Avenue with insulation and state-of-the-art air conditioning to make the building more efficient and to provide a place where community members can find a cool spot on hot days.
The money comes from a state Building Electrification Grant program, which provides grants to maximize energy efficiency and reduce the carbon footprint of buildings throughout the state. Buildings are the second-biggest contributor to greenhouse gases after transportation, according to information from the program.
For the Twisp Valley Grange, a building that was completed more than 60 years ago, the grant will pay for purchase and installation of two high-efficiency heat pumps to heat and cool the building, and insulated panels on the exterior of the building.
The Twisp Grange is one of 17 projects — selected from more than 50 applicants —– that received funding to improve energy efficiency. The grants, which come from the state’s Clean Energy Fund, were announced recently by the Washington Department of Commerce.
Dwight Filer and Mary Jane Perry, the Grange’s vice president and secretary, worked over the past year to secure funding to retrofit the old building, and they admitted being a little surprised — but grateful –— to have been so successful.
“We asked for so much money, we never thought we’d get it,” Filer said.
The Grange serves as a gathering place for a wide range of meetings, candidate forums, weddings and other events. The improvements at the Grange will be “for the community,” said Perry. “We’re rural eastern Washington. Twisp is 66% of the median income for Washington.”
The Grange is partnering with Room One to help inform people who don’t have air conditioning at home that there will be a place to go to escape the heat, Perry said.
Ultimately, the Grange hopes to install an air filtration system to provide a refuge from smoky air as well as heat, Perry said. But funding is still needed to achieve that goal.
Plans for improvements at the Grange started with a more modest goal of lowering heating bills by replacing two old, inefficient electric heaters. Grange members held a retreat about a year ago and decided to try to raise money to purchase a modern heat pump to reduce heating costs and cool the building.
The Grange began fundraising and Perry wrote some small grant proposals, eventually raising about $24,000 for the heat pump.
They learned about the Department of Commerce Building Electrification Grants through the Methow Valley Citizens Council, and are applying the $24,000 they raised previously toward the required matching funds.
In addition to installing heat pumps for the Grange’s upper and lower floors, the grant will fund a load management system to reduce peak loads.
The grant will also pay for insulating the exterior of the building, which is built of cinder blocks. Filer said the work will begin with foam board insulation on the portion of the building that is below ground, then installing insulated panels on the exterior cinder block walls. The panels will resemble adobe, he said.
The project meets the goals of the Building Electrification Grant program by improving energy efficiency and reducing energy consumption, Perry said.
“We reduce our carbon footprint by 43% with the heat pumps, and another 40% with insulation,” Perry said. The reductions had to be calculated as part of the grant application.
The Grange has secured a line of credit with North Cascades National Bank for the project. The bank generously waived 2% of interest rates normally charged for a line of credit, Perry said.
The Grange will also partner with vocational education programs at Liberty Bell High School and the Independent Learning Center to help students learn by observing the project as it moves forward, Perry said.
The below-ground insulation work will needs to be completed before the heat pumps are installed. Perry said she is hopeful that the building may be able to serve as a cool spot to escape the heat by the end of this summer, and it will certainly be ready for next summer’s heat.