District Case Studies

HOLT Architects Office

HOLT Architects, 619 W. State St.

In 2016, HOLT Architects completed the renovation of a one-story, 7,600 square foot strip mall into a near net-zero energy building – now home to the firm’s Ithaca operations. HOLT worked to not only preserve but also highlight as much of the original structure as possible.

Two critical components were necessary to achieve near net-zero: energy consumption minimization, and onsite energy production. They consisted of the following measures:

  • Envelope: Tightening the thermal envelope by putting continuous insulation inside of CMU block walls and study cavities.
  • Lighting: Installation of LED lighting and lighting controls such as occupancy sensors, daylight sensors, and scheduling software.
  • Plug Loads: Installation of plug load controls.
  • Mechanical Systems: Installation of an all-electric, distributed air-to-air heat pump
  • Onsite Energy Production: Installation of a 60 kW solar PV array on the roof.


Tatiem Engineering, 110 S. Albany St.

Originally a multifamily complex with four apartments, the building was constructed in 1880. Significant renovation was needed to fit Taitem’s needs and make it single occupancy, as extra bathrooms, kitchens, and exterior entrances had to be removed. Redevelopment of the now LEED Platinum office lasted from 2009 to 2012.

Taitem Engineering set a design goal of net-zero energy. They are still working toward this goal, but some measures that have already been implemented are:

  • Lighting: Designed lighting power density to 0.5 W/ft2 as opposed to the standard 1.1.
  • Onsite Energy Production: Installation of a 6.44 kW solar PV array on the roof, and a ground mounted 2.76 kW array. Water: Reduced consumption by 31% by installing dual flush toilets, low flow plumbing fixtures, and a high efficiency condensing boiler.
  • Mechanical Systems: Installation of a geothermal heat pump in the attic, lined with a radiant barrier material to increase efficiency.
  • Water: Reduced consumption by 31% by installing dual flush toilets, low flow plumbing fixtures, and a high efficiency condensing boiler.


104 East State St.

Currently a mixed-use building with retail on the first floor and three apartments above, 104 East State St. dates back to the late 1860s and once operated as a clothing store. Today, the building houses Homegrown Skateshop, the only skateboarder-run retail business serving Ithaca.

The building’s current owner, Fred Schoeps, purchased the building in 2011 and then decided to redevelop the upper
floors into apartments. The renovation was completed in 2014, under architect Claudia Brenner and general contractor Scott Smith of Latipac Builders. Some main features implemented during the renovation include:

  • Facade Renovation: Old wooden windows were replaced with energy-efficient windows. Exterior walls and the slanted roof were insulated before the interior walls and ceilings were put in place.
  • Natural Lighting: A light shaft was installed to minimize requirements for artificial lighting.
  • Electrification: All appliances were made electric and individual units were provided for
    each apartment, including heating and cooling units and hot water heaters.

In 2020, the building has already met the 2030 reduction targets for both energy and water performance. The building exemplifies what existing properties are able to achieve by incorporating standard green improvements, and underscores the fact that bleeding-edge technology is not necessary to significantly reduce the carbon footprint of an already existing
structure. “Looking back, it really was a simple decision to make a commitment to improve the sustainability of our building,” said Schoeps. “It is one of the simplest ways of giving back to thecommunity and adding economic value.”


Purity Ice Cream

An icon of the Finger Lakes region, Purity Ice Cream was first founded in 1936. As a popular destination for ice cream lovers, the Purity building located at 700 Cascadilla St. houses a mix of restaurant, retail, and office space.

Keenly aware of the energy-intensive nature of ice cream operations, Purity’s co-owner Bruce Lane has been committed to making the business as green as possible. Many sustainable practices were implemented over the years, including:

  • Geothermal: Four high-efficiency ground source heat pumps/air conditioning systems were installed with programmable thermostats and energy recovery ventilation units. The heat pumps are entirely powered by solar energy.
  • Solar Power: Purity is one of the first commercial properties in Ithaca to install rooftop solar. It currently has a solar PV system with a capacity of over 35 kW.
  • Facade Renovation: Improved roof and wall insulation with high-efficiency windows and doors. The new roof is white to mitigate solar gain in the summer, which places the biggest load on HVAC resources.
  • Energy-Efficient Lighting: LED lighting and new windows were installed to create well-lit rental office space.
  • Site Surroundings: Reduced overall paved footprint, created extensive landscaping, and installed bike racks near the building to provide a more accessible and aesthetic environment for walking and biking and to improve stormwater runoff mitigation.