Case Study: Empowering the Community Through Energy Efficiency

Discover the Festival Center's transformation into a sustainable community hub in Adams Morgan.

Several representatives from the DCSEU, Festival Center and District Representatives gather for the ribbon cutting ceremony.

For over 30 years, the Festival Center has served as a hub for activists, artists, nonprofits, people of faith and non-faith backgrounds, and justice- seeking organizations. In June 2023, the Festival Center opened its doors to its newly renovated building located in Adams Morgan. The building includes 43 rentable office spaces, a 1,540 square foot commercial training kitchen, a 500 square foot conference room, 800 square foot coworking space and 30 parking spaces. 

With 75% of all carbon emissions in the District coming from buildings, the Festival Center focused its renovation efforts on long term sustainability. Many of the building’s occupants offer direct service to residents from legal aid to music lessons, therefore making these upgrades is part of the organization’s commitment to providing a safe and comfortable environment for the greatest community impact. 

This project began back in 2020 when Executive Director, Bill Mefford joined the organization with a goal of aligning the Festival Center’s vision with a sustainable building that would also serve as a coworking space for community organizations. After meeting with community partners and developing a clear vision for the building, Usource Construction, a company a District CBE that focuses on high-impact community-oriented projects, came on to bring this vision to life. 

During the design phase of this project, Usource and the Festival Center began a relationship with the DCSEU to offer technical assistance with rebates, incentives, and other cost-saving measures thate would support the project, according to Shirley Boubert-Rumble, CEO of Usource Construction. 

Meeting with Cory Chimka [DCSEU Senior Account Manager] at the beginning of this and hearing his encouragement and insight gave us a sense of legitimacy and when our tenants and visitors hear and see the presence of DCSEU in what has been produced they know that this space is not just function, and not just pretty, it is made with tremendous skill and knowledge. I think this is huge,. said Mefford. 

Their efforts to incorporate energy efficiency throughout the building’s lighting and HVAC systems all the way down to their choice of refrigerators led them to meet the threshold to receive an incentivized solar awning, which the organization hosted a ribbon cutting event for along with New Columbia Solar on August 10, 2023. In total, the DCSEU provided over $10,500 in incentives for the completion of the building renovation. 

The solar system will generate roughly 56,800 kWh of energy annually, equivalent to 5 American households' energy use per year. This along with upgrades to the building HVAC and lighting systems will help them save an additional 52,027 kWh of energy annually,  which amountings to $8,522 in annual energy cost savings. 

With renovations that also include a discounted co-working space, a free library (which is the biggest social justice library in DC), and the Center for Spiritual Formation, the Festival Center is set to further energy efficiency initiatives into their mission as a faith-based organization. 

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business, small business, sustainable dc, success story

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