May 20Green Energy in California
Mercy Housing is committed to increasing energy efficiency across our entire portfolio, reducing waste and consumption, and creating a healthier environment for residents. We make energy efficiency a priority because it is a vehicle for housing preservation, it supports residents’ needs, and it is our contribution toward the climate change crisis.
Energy efficiency is a vehicle for housing preservation. There is an affordable housing crisis in the United States. Nationally, not a single county has enough affordable housing for all residents, an issue that is particularly prevalent in many areas of California. When we protect existing affordable housing, we are a part of the solution to this challenge. Increasing energy efficiency in a property is one way to keep that property affordable.
Supporting residents by keeping the cost of living low. When we ask residents, we learn that some of their major concerns each month are being able to pay rent, food, medicine, and utilities. Installing energy efficient measures in their apartments can and does decrease resident-paid utility bills, helping ease living expense burdens.
We recognize the crisis of climate change. The state of California has greenhouse reduction goals, and our work contributes to these goals. We are creating a brighter and healthier future for all Californians when our buildings are energy efficient.
In California, Mercy Housing is in the middle of a multi-phase project to implement as much efficiency as economically feasible across the entire California portfolio. One property where Mercy Housing completed a deep energy retrofit was recently recognized for its success. 205 Jones in the Tenderloin neighborhood of San Francisco is an unassuming 1920s six-story 50-unit brick building that had a traditional gas-powered hot water boiler. In April 2017, Mercy Housing replaced this boiler with an electric heat-water-pump water heater, making 205 Jones one of the first multifamily properties in the nation to have this technology. In addition, this property received LED lighting, low-flow water devices and appliances, pipe and duct insulation, and other energy saving measures.
Since these improvements were installed two years ago, owner energy consumption reduced by 45%. This reduction represents more than 2,000 million BTU, which is the equivalent of:
- 81 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents or
- Removing 17 passenger cars from the road for a year or
- Nearly 200,000 miles driven by an average passenger vehicle or
- Burning 88,000 pounds of coal or
- Carbon sequestered by 95 acres of forest for a year
This electrical water heating system is not only more efficient but also has the potential to be powered by wind or solar power, unlike traditional water heaters that use fossil fuels.
Mercy Housing funded this electric hot water pump because of a partnership with Affordable Community Energy Services Company (ACE) and funding from California’s Low Income Weatherization Program. Thanks to our collaboration with ACE, about 70 properties in California will have energy upgrades by the end of 2019.
As a result of the retrofit project at 205 Jones Street Apartments, it was recently recognized in an event by Maria Vargas, a director at the US Department of Energy and head of the Better Buildings Challenge. 205 Jones also won the National Apartment Association’s Return on Energy (ROE) Energy Retrofit Award in 2018. The ROE Awards spotlight action and results in energy management beneficial to the multifamily industry; the Energy Retrofit Award recognizes innovative solutions that successfully reduce energy use.
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