OCDC Will Provide Financial Help For Green Projects

OCEAN CITY – The Ocean City Development Corporation (OCDC) is now offering downtown businesses and property owners the new Green Building Initiatives Program, which will offer financial assistance to business owners seeking to install new long-term energy efficient products and methods.

OCDC’s goal is to create structures and use processes that are environmentally responsible and resource efficient throughout a building’s life cycle. The long-term goal is to reduce the costs for businesses by providing environmentally friendly methods. Multiple projects within one area will maximize a positive impact.

The new program is offered within OCDC’s target area, which is the Inlet to 17th Street and from the bay to the Boardwalk. Buildings are required to be at least 25 years old for financial assistance.

OCDC will provide a 2:1 ratio matching grant for green building improvements. It received $50,000 from the State of Maryland and expects to assist at least 10 building projects. The maximum grant made by OCDC for eligible improvements is $5,000, requiring the applicant to contribute at least $10,000 in matching funds.

According to OCDC Executive Director Glenn Irwin, the program was announced on Monday and by Tuesday there were already four building owners interested.

As of Wednesday OCDC had already approved their first project.

The first applicant approved is SeaBreeze Motel located on Baltimore Avenue.  The applicant will be installing 81 new EnergyStar windows and 30 new EnergyStar doors.

According to Irwin, the motel will be changed into a Knights Inn franchised motel for this summer season.

“It is very similar administrative wise to our façade program, which has been a big success,” Irwin said. “And we’re hoping this program will become as successful as our façade program is.”

Irwin said that this OCDC’s Green Building Initiative’s Program is serving as a pilot program for the state.

“So I think they’re keeping an eye on the program to see how well it received here in Ocean City,” he said.

Elements eligible for the program include installation of solar panels, wind turbines, EnergyStar rated windows and doors, siding that consist of a majority of recycled materials, minimum insulation requirements, rigid insulation for exterior walls, weather stripping and caulking as an accessory improvement to a larger project, as well as other improvements that would increase energy efficiency.

“There may be a strong interest in some of the older buildings … insulation, windows and doors, and we may get some interest in wind turbines and solar panels,” Irwin said. “But insulation may be one of the most important components in green building or weatherization.”

Items not eligible for the program include air-conditioning units, refrigerators, washer and dryers and dishwashers.

“What we are trying to do is compliment other incentive programs,” Irwin explained. “Like Delmarva Power has some other incentive programs that point towards purchasing energy efficient air conditioning units…ours are trying to compliment theirs by saying what they don’t provide we can provide, so there’s no overlapping.”

Irwin also explained that a property owner can apply to OCDC’s façade program for exterior improvements to a building as well as apply to the Green Building Initiatives Program for interior energy efficiency improvements to reduce energy costs.

Improvements must be designed to be in scale with both the existing structure and neighboring structures.

Building with significant architectural qualities must be restored and maintained. OCDC is promoting buildings that reflect the “turn of the century” seaside architectural style of Old Ocean City.

Irwin said architectural components of a design that are included in the turn of the 19th century would be lightly colored buildings, roofs with pitches, and buildings with porches.

“That is very complimentary in not only the existing building but a lot of the new construction projects that we have been involved in,” Irwin said. “That is a city code and we’re planning the green building initiatives to have that also.”

Eligible applicants include property owners or tenant operated retail businesses, restaurants, service establishment or office with frontage on a street designated for revitalization by the OCDC, hotels and motels, bed and breakfasts, workforce housing, weekly rental apartments, and mixed use buildings.

“Only because when we presented this to the state, we presented it as a business savings program,” Irwin explained.

The OCDC has hopes in the future to be able to expand the green initiatives program to homeowners and condominium buildings, as they did with their façade program.

“When we initially set up the façade program it was only for commercial businesses,” Irwin said. “As time went on we received state approval to adopt that to home ownership projects and smaller condominiums.”