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EPA Honors Historic Back-to-the-Land Community in Western Pennsylvania with First ENERGY STARŪ Small Business Award

Release Date: 10/1/1999
Contact Information: Donna Heron, 215-814-5113

Donna Heron, 215-814-5113

PENN-CRAFT (Fayette County), Pa. - Penn-Craft Community Association received EPA’s first ENERGY STARŪ Small Business Award last week for the innovative energy efficient system installed during the just completed renovation of an old knitting mill.

The village, consisting of 85 families, was created in 1937 by the American Friends Service Committee for coal miners who were displaced by the depression. The coal miners were taught construction skills and they used their newly acquired skills to build 50 homes, a cooperative store and a cooperative knitting mill which closed in the mid 1960s.

Penn-Craft Community Association, which is restoring the mill and establishing an ethnic foods industry at the site, was honored during a ceremony last week at EPA’s Philadelphia office for incorporating energy-saving improvements in the restoration protect.

"Penn-Craft recognizes that it can make a contribution to the environment and make a good business decision as well," said W. Michael McCabe, regional administrator of EPA’s mid-Atlantic region.

Louis Orslene, the association’s director of community development, said the general feeling is that energy efficient systems will cost more than the ones normally installed.

“That’s what we thought when we started out. But we were able to install an energy efficient radiant heating system that ended up being the same price as conventional forced air,” Orslene said.

The association, which will be renting out the restored mill for weddings and banquets, also upgraded lighting, the hot water system, installed heat retaining windows and variable speed drives for motors.

"We are just a small group of people attempting to create economic development so we need to make sure our overhead is as low as possible," said Orslene to explain the group’s involvement in the ENERGY STARŪ program.

EPA’s ENERGY STARŪ program has always recognized large corporations for their energy efficient activities. But until this year there was no specific recognition for small businesses which are defined as having 100,000 square footage or less.

"It’s important that we do all we can to encourage small businesses to take advantage of these programs," McCabe said. "As more business people become aware of the effective and efficient way they can protect the environment, they will also become aware that it is good for their bottom line."

EPA offers 21 voluntary partnership programs designed to prevent pollution and save money. Nationally, 7,427 businesses saved themselves a total of $3.3 billion; reduced waste by 7.8 million tons; prevented 80 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions; and saved $1.8 billion gallons of water -- the emissions reductions alone are the equivalent of taking 65 million cars off the road.