The Athenian Corner, a Greek restaurant owned by the Panagiotopoulos family, has been a familiar sight in the historic district of downtown Lowell, Massachusetts, since 1974. Energy efficiency upgrades are helping the Panagiotopoulos family reduce operating costs and make their restaurant more successful. The Athenian Corner completed a building energy assessment through BetterBuildings Lowell that projected 30% energy savings if the recommended upgrades were installed. After securing $47,500 through a BetterBuildings Lowell grant and $27,500 in a loan from the local lending consortium, the restaurant installed a new boiler, air conditioning and heating system, lighting fixtures, and an efficient refrigerator storage cabinet.

A year since the improvements, the Athenian Corner's owner, Ted Panagiotopoulos, is extremely pleased to find that his restaurant has reduced its total energy use by 41%, far exceeding the 30% savings projected by the original audit. "As much as we enjoy now being environmentally conscious and doing our part to save the planet, let's just say, paying a low energy bill for the prime air conditioning period of July and August is the best part for us," he said. Overall, the restaurant is expected to save $6,200 on its gas bill and $500 on its electric bill. Lowell plans to become the first Carbon Neutral Historic District in the country, and projects like the Athenian Corner are the foundation for the city's neighborhood-scale energy efficiency program.