YIKES, Inc. is a woman owned Philadelphia based web design and development company dedicated to sustainable business practices. The business is a member and official sponsor of the Sustainable Business Network of Greater Philadelphia, have earned the B Corporation Certification, and are powered by 100% renewable electricity through the Energy Cooperative.
When YIKES owner Tracy Levesque came to the Wharton Small Business Development Center (SBDC) in early 2010, she sought assistance in planning a business expansion and moving the firm’s daily operations into a brand new green building renovation. Since Levesque had already set her goals for this new building project to achieve the U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC) Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) platinum certification, the highest LEED certification achievable, the Wharton SBDC suggested that Levesque contact the SBDC’s Environmental Management Assistance Program’s (EMAP) for assistance with the project.
Levesque contacted EMAP about their free and confidential environmental consulting services and had arranged to have EMAP consultant Jeremy Hancher perform an onsite assessment of the two adjacent buildings on Girard Avenue.
During EMAP’s assessment, it was obvious that the vacant buildings were in bad shape. They were completely gutted, the walls were devoid of drywall yet covered in graffiti, the roof displayed gaping holes, and there was no working heat or AC system. After surveying the scene, EMAP suggested that Levesque consider utilizing some available energy efficiency incentives to help subsidize the LEED building retrofit. Since a high efficient heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system would be needed, EMAP suggested that YIKES consider applying for the Small Business Advantage Grant to help offset the project costs. This grant program is offered by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and provides a 50% match, up to $7,500, to help cover the costs of energy efficiency and pollution prevention project upgrades.
With EMAP’s help, YIKES applied for and was awarded a full $7,500 Advantage Grant for the installation of ENERGY STAR high efficiency electric heat pumps for the first floor commercial spaces. This project will save YIKES approximately $1,000 in annual savings, or just over 25 percent over the annual energy costs had they chosen to go with a traditional HVAC system. YIKES even has plans on someday supplying the electricity generation from the HVAC system with the help of solar panels.
While the grant is a just a drop in the bucket compared to the building retrofit’s overall project costs, YIKES is extremely pleased with the assistance from the grant. “Every little bit helps,” Levesque explained. “And we can’t thank EMAP enough for all their assistance!!!” YIKES takes steps in making a green building project a r