Western Maryland Railway Station - Smart Energy Decisions

Energy Efficiency  -  January 15, 2021 - By Better Buildings, U.S. Department of Energy

Repurposing the Western Maryland Railway Station

The Western Maryland Railway Station in Cumberland, Maryland was built in 1913 and operated as a passenger station by the Western Maryland Railway until 1959. The building went through various transformations, housing offices until 1988 when the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad began service. Today, the station continues to operate as a heritage railroad while also serving as the headquarters of the Canal Place Preservation and Development Authority (CPPDA). The State of Maryland renovated the facility primarily to address occupant comfort issues, and although the historical facility presented unique challenges for improvements, a comprehensive building upgrade resulted in a 21 percent annual energy savings and an annual cost savings of $12,100.

The 24,730-square-foot brick building houses offices, a museum, and two small retail shops. The facility also features a C&O Canal National Historic Park exhibit and associated visitor's center. The CPPDA is an independent agency of the State of Maryland.

CPPDA worked in collaboration with the Maryland Energy Administration and Department of General Services to conduct an energy audit of the facility with support from the U.S. Department of Energy. The audit identified several cost-effective energy conservation measures which included replacement of the building’s 20+-year-old HVAC system, updates to the lighting system, and improvements to the building envelope involving air sealing and insulation.

The table below lists the facility upgrades implemented at the Western Maryland Railway Station with associated costs. These measures were essential to improving occupant comfort while reducing the historic building’s energy consumption and costs.

Savings Measure




HVAC replacement


$5,000 annually

Replaced 10 HVAC split systems with DX air conditioning systems using hydronic coils as main heat source

Lighting replacement


$3,600 annually

Replaced 550 short-lifespan fixtures with LED bulbs and fixtures

Building envelope upgrades


$3,500 annually

Included installation of building insulation and air sealing

Before this project, tenants of the building used space heaters in their offices and workstations to address drafts and uncomfortable temperatures in the building. Sealing and insulating the building envelope and upgrading the HVAC system improved building comfort and eliminated the energy consumption of individual space heaters. In addition, CPPDA realized significant cost savings from reduced maintenance and repair of the HVAC and lighting systems. The facility was budgeting more than $5,000 annually to maintain and repair the HVAC system, which had to be regularly recharged with coolant due to leaky refrigerant lines. The lighting upgrade added projected maintenance savings of $3,600 annually.

Click here for a virtual site visit of the Western Maryland Railway Station.

This column originally at the Better Buildings Solutions Center

Better Buildings is an initiative of the U.S. Department of Energy designed to drive leadership in energy innovation. Through Better Buildings, DOE partners with leaders in the public and private sectors to make homes, commercial buildings, and industrial plants more energy efficient by accelerating investment and sharing of successful best practices.


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