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June 3, 2011 > Flipping the switch

Flipping the switch

Affordable community for low-income seniors in Hayward goes green

Submitted By Eden Housing, Inc.

U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) Regional Director Ophelia Basgal, Hayward Mayor Michael Sweeney and the Eden Housing team "flipped the switch" on the new solar photovoltaic system and green upgrades at Eden Issei Terrace, a 100-unit, affordable housing complex for low-income seniors, on May 13, 2011.

The apartment community, constructed in 1984, has needed major renovations for some time but, with a long list of capital needs, there are no programs available to fund the extensive rehab that is needed on the 27-year old building. Eden took advantage of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act [stimulus] money and California solar rebates for green and solar upgrades. This is the first time that California solar rebates have been used for affordable, multi-family housing.

Gas usage at Eden Issei Terrace, located at 200 Fagundes Court, Hayward, has fallen by 22 percent, electricity usage by 40 percent and water usage by 21 percent. The property has realized initial cost savings of 38 percent for gas, 44 percent for electricity and 20 percent for water. Sustainable upgrades to this beautiful senior community incorporate energy- and resource-efficient features such as solar photovoltaic panels, hydronic heating systems, high-efficiency water heaters, energy-efficient lighting for the units and common areas and formaldehyde-free insulation. Water-conservation features include dual flush toilets and low-flow fixtures.

Hayward-base, non-profit Eden Housing provides affordable accommodation for more than 58,000 people. The organization is the owner-operator of its developments and has developed or acquired over 6,300 homes and 61,100 square feet of adjoining commercial/retail space in 85 properties since it was established in 1968. Eden has over 4,500 apartments in its property management portfolio and provides access to supportive resident services programs at all of its communities.

"Last year HUD made available stimulus funding for retrofits and improvements to existing HUD properties. The eight-month solar project at Eden Issei Terrace entailed the installation of solar, insulation and other energy efficiency improvements. We thought we would have to wait several years before work could start because of the finance we were arranging but the one-time injection of $1.1M federal dollars of the $200M that was available nationally enabled us to begin work much sooner," explained Linda Mandolini, Executive Director, Eden Housing.

"The newly-installed solar and lighting upgrades have generated initial energy savings but we expect them to increase to around 50-60 percent. Payback for Eden takes from only four to seven years because of the available rebates, subsidies, tax credits for investors... without which we could not afford to undertake solar projects," stated Melanie Burnett, Asset Manager, Eden Housing. "Solar panels effectively 'offset' approximately 70-74 percent of the common load at this property. The offset varies according to property, available roof space and configuration; panels are mounted on roof space that faces direct sunlight. There is an opportunity to maximize the use of solar when designing and constructing a new building. The California Solar Initiative, available through PG&E, is the first program that provides incentives to install solar systems at multi-family properties. We're fortunate to have participated."

"We encourage the state and Federal governments to provide more incentives for solar-system installation. The appropriate combination of public policy, incentives and owners' ability and desire to go green is necessary. Far fewer projects are likely to happen unless property owners see some benefit; affordability is an issue for most," concluded Mandolini.

For more information about Eden Housing, visit www.EdenHousing.org and about the California Solar Initiative, visit www.GoSolarCalifornia.org.

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