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Mercy Housing Makes Affordable Housing Green Through Energy and Water Efficiency Upgrades



Amelia Laing

Content Manager


San Francisco, CA—Mercy Housing, the largest affordable housing nonprofit in the country, announced today that it has upgraded six of its California properties with efficiency measures that will reduce the amount of energy and water consumed in the buildings. The upgrades were supported by Mercy Housing’s Green Hope sustainability program, designed to reduce consumption of natural resources, reduce waste, and create healthier living environments with no reduction in quality of service to the residents.

The installation took place from January to June of 2017, including new lighting systems, hot water heating systems, washing machines, low flow water devices, and pipe insulation. In total, 48 individual measures were installed across six properties.  A particularly innovative measure was the installation of heat pump water heaters at all of the properties. This water heating technology is not only much more efficient – 250% to 400% more efficient than a traditional gas-fired or electric system – but when paired with renewables such as solar PV, will reduce or eliminate the use of fossil fuels for hot water production at these properties.  Altogether, the six projects are expected to save 88,800 kWh of electricity; 35,600 therms of natural gas (that is the equivalent of driving across the country nearly 300 times); and 1,470,000 gallons of water in aggregate each year.

These upgrades were made possible through a financial partnership with Affordable Community Energy Services Company (ACE). ACE brought additional funding to the project, offering a “pay from savings” approach, enabling Mercy Housing to use the revenue from energy and water savings to pay for the work over a period of 10 years.

Bright Power, the leading energy and water management partner for multifamily buildings and one of ACE’s partners, managed the installation of all efficiency measures. Mercy Housing will use Bright Power’s EnergyScoreCards platform to track energy and water savings each month. Measuring the performance of the retrofits in EnergyScoreCards gives Mercy and ACE the insight they need to finance the project, and confidence that the efficiency projects will yield real savings. “Working with ACE and Bright Power on this project has been a positive experience for Mercy Housing. The team’s experience in implementing efficiency in affordable housing was invaluable to the successful implementation of the design and construction phases of this project,” said Caitlin Rood, Mercy Housing’s Environmental Sustainability Director.

The upgrades were subsidized in part by the California Low Income Weatherization Program (LIWP), which is California Climate Investment Project funded by the state’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund. The program supports low-income owners and residents in order to lower utility costs, save energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions in large multifamily properties.

“Combining the LIWP incentives with the ACE pay-from-savings offering, we were able to achieve deep levels of retrofit at these properties in a way we could not have otherwise done.  We hope to replicate this approach with more California incentive programs at other properties in our portfolio,” said Rood.

Research shows that people with low incomes tend to have higher energy bills than people with higher incomes. Many are forced into substandard housing, or housing where they don’t have a say in what kind of appliances and heating and cooling systems a building uses. The upgrades will increase resident comfort, reduce money and time spent on building operations, and increase the value and long-term sustainability of these buildings.

The six Mercy properties that received energy and water upgrades from Bright Power and ACE, with funding from LIWP, are: Padre Apartments (San Francisco), 205 Jones Street Apartments (San Francisco), Ardenaire Apartments (Sacramento), Hamilton Apartments (Oakland), Presentation Senior Community (San Francisco), and Marlton Manor (San Francisco).

About Mercy Housing

Mercy Housing, Inc. (MHI), is a leading national affordable housing nonprofit headquartered in Denver, Colo. Established by the Sisters of Mercy in 1981, and in operation in 41 states, MHI has 35 years’ experience developing, preserving, managing, and financing affordable housing. MHI supplements much of its housing with Resident Services, programs that help residents build stable lives. MHI’s subsidiaries further the organization’s mission: Mercy Housing Management Group (MHMG) offers professional property management and Mercy Loan Fund (MLF) finances nonprofit organizations. MHI serves tens of thousands of people with low incomes, including families, seniors, veterans, people who have experienced homelessness, and people with disabilities. Its mission is to build a more humane world where poverty is alleviated, communities are healthy, and all people can live to their full potential. To learn more about MHI and the services it provides, visit

About Green Hope

Green Hope is Mercy Housing’s environmental sustainability program. Mercy Housing has committed to be responsible stewards of the earth by making several external environmental commitments. Green Hope guides Mercy Housing in all aspects of its operations, from designing, building, and rehabilitating properties, to office practices, property operations, and Resident Services.

About Affordable Community Energy Services Company (“ACE”) 

ACE is a mission-driven energy services company that provides comprehensive energy efficiency, water conservation and onsite electricity production and storage retrofits to the owners of multifamily affordable housing.  ACE’s leadership developed ACE’s service model while running an energy subsidiary of Hispanic Housing Development Corporation (HHDC), a 501(c)(3) owner, developer and manager of affordable housing headquartered in Chicago.  HHDC was awarded, along with other collaborators, a $4 million Energy Innovation Fund grant from HUD, which eventually led to the development of the ACE service model. To learn more about ACE, visit their website.

About Bright Power

Bright Power provides strategic energy and water solutions to building owners and operators nationwide, with offices in New York City and Oakland, CA.  Specializing in multifamily buildings, Bright Power’s suite of services help clients reduce consumption and environmental impact, increase resident comfort, and increase the value of their real estate assets. Bright Power’s energy management solutions include EnergyScoreCards benchmarking software, energy audits, energy procurement, onsite generation, green building design services, turnkey installation of energy improvements, commissioning services, incentive program administration, and ongoing energy management. Clients of Bright Power include many of the largest owners of multifamily housing across the country – the company has worked with over 29,000 buildings comprising over 874,000 apartment units across 49 states.