Solara: Solar-Powered Affordable Housing in San Diego County, CA
In spring 2007, an advanced green affordable housing complex situated CA, in Northern San Diego County, in the city of Poway, was finished. A collaboration between Community Housing Works, a non-profit housing developer, the Poway Redevelopment Agency and Global Green USA, the complex will be the primary net zero energy housing in California. This 56-apartment complex will be 100%-powered by rooftop photovoltaics, at times sending more electricity to the grid than it needs (hence "net zero energy"). Under the county's revolutionary "zero utility allowance," residents, who are able to rent the flats at considerably below market rates, will not have any energy bills to pay. The rooftops of this multi-component home feature 141 kw of photovoltaic panels, and per the states of the city, can't be seen from street level.
The flats comprise a number of other green elements, including usage of non-hazardous paints, energy efficient appliances and water saving plumbing, utilization of recycled stuff, as well as a landscape plan that includes "no mow" grass and native species of trees (and a citrus grove, as well). The complex also carries a community center, office space, and is situated near public transit. Residents should walk to nearby shops and every unit was given their very own metal shopping cart. Housing County work in addition has commissioned the preparation of a Green Curriculum for the community, a green management/maintenance guide, as well as require all residents to attend a preoccupancy briefing on the green features of the locality.
The PV panels added $1.1 million to the cost of the job, but was financed in creative ways. Funding was provided through the California Energy Commissions Zero Energy New Homes program in part with a national solar power tax credit.
Global Green USA points out the ultimate and impressive green benefits from Solara:
The end result: SOLARA has the lowest carbon footprint of any apartment complex in California, 95 percent lower than a conventionally powered community, avoiding more than 1800 tons of carbon dioxide each year. That is the equivalent to planting 5,446 trees or taking 300 cars off the road annually. (Global Green, 2007, p. 1).