Contractor sees growing demand for retrofits

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Everyone loves the idea of reducing their carbon footprint — until it comes time to fork over the “green” needed to pay for it, says Stan Peregoy, president of Calvert-Jones Co. Inc. In 2005 the Alexandria-based construction and services firm added a “green” team to help owners of existing buildings reduce their dependence on nonrenewable energy sources and improve energy efficiency by up to 60 percent.

“Companies have been used to buying technologies and services that have a two- to three-year return on investment, so if you’re exceeding seven years, it’s a hard sell to convince them otherwise, especially if you also have to tell them that they’re on the leading edge,” he explains. “They don’t want to be the first to install it. They don’t want to be the fifth to install it.”

Nonetheless, Calvert-Jones is seeing a shift in attitude, thanks in part to rising utility costs and the Obama administration’s expected encouragement of green tax credits and incentives.

Peregoy projects that his green division will generate revenue of $8 million to $10 million this year. During the past two years, the same group took in just $2 million in revenue. “People are realizing, too, that, in this economy, if they can reduce their energy bills, they can automatically move those savings to their bottom line,” says Peregoy. “And they get productivity gains as well.”

The company focuses almost exclusively on retrofitting existing buildings with energy efficiency systems. It provides a wide range of green services, including on-site efficiency assessments; air and water testing; upgrading of lighting, plumbing and heating and air-conditioning systems; and installation of green roofing, solar panels, wind turbines and geothermal heat pumps. The company also provides strategies to help companies effectively achieve what Peregoy calls the “Four R’s”: reduce, reuse, reclaim and recycle.

Calvert-Jones, which has 190 employees, has performed green work for universities, private schools, hospitals, churches, owner-occupied buildings and property management companies. This year, it is also getting work from homeowners, as well as industrial manufacturing operations.

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