Delaware Company Breathes New Life into Old Post Office Building

on December 04, 2013 at 5:00 PM


For 23 years, a Wilmington, Delaware, computer-aided design firm leased its office space. That all changed in 2010 when Brandywine CAD Design, Inc. (B-CAD) — a company that provides computer-aided drawing (CAD) services to architectural, engineering and construction clients — purchased the vacant Talleyville Post Office. Today located in the city’s prime transportation corridor, the post office was built in the 1950s when the area was considered rural and energy efficiency was not a factor in the design or construction of new buildings.

The old post office was an ideal building for owner Don Lloyd, who was looking for a facility where he could retain the historic character of the building, yet design and engineer the company’s home to create a cleaner, occupant-friendly and energy-efficient environment.

With the help of the Energy Department’s State Energy Program, the company set out to create the new workspace. The long-term goal: Qualify for the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum rating — something that they hope to achieve by mid 2014.

B-CAD made several changes to optimize energy savings, including new lighting controls, and updating heating and cooling systems. The company installed 121 solar panels manufactured in Delaware that are capable of producing 36,000 kilowatt hours of energy per year, equivalent to the same amount of energy a typical U.S. home uses in a year. The solar panels generate almost 50 percent of B-CAD’s total energy use and save the company $6,000 annually.

The company also replaced an inefficient 15-ton rooftop air-conditioning unit with three five-ton highly-efficient, variable-speed heat pump systems. In addition to the new ventilation system’s low purchase and operating costs, it is also highly effective at capturing dust, allergens and bacteria.

Most recently, B-CAD replaced 12 large, leaky single pane windows with low emissivity (low-e) glass and thermal break frames — two window technologies that control heat loss and heat gain from the glass. This has provided a less drafty and brighter workspace, and the employees are able to open the new operable windows on nice days, saving on heating and cooling costs. In total, B-CAD anticipates the payback period for the energy upgrades will be about 4.5 years.

Aside from reducing energy use and saving money, Lloyd is most proud of the facility because he enjoys sharing the investment results with the surrounding community.

“When we speak with clients and neighbors, we find they are interested in our quest for a greener building and our creativity in making it happen,” he said. “They often begin sharing their ideas and what they can do at home. What a reward.”