Solar Hot Water System to Offset Full Building Energy Usage

14 May 2012

DC•Energy, a solar development company owned by S.D. Deacon Corp and NW Photon Energy, announced today that they have been awarded a contract for the design and installation of a new photovoltaic (PV) electric system and a solar water heating system at Fell Street Apartments, an affordable housing development, in San Francisco, California.

The Fell Street Apartment complex is owned and operated by BRIDGE Housing, the leading nonprofit, affordable housing developer in California.  It is a high-density, 82-unit rental development for families.  Originally completed in 1994, the apartments will be retrofitted with a 92-kilowatt (kW) photovoltaic (PV) electrical system as well as a solar thermal water heating system, both manufactured by Schüco.

The solar electric system consists of 354 high-performance, mono-crystalline solar panels which will generate enough power with a target offset of 100% of the common area electricity usage including lighting, elevators and HVAC systems.  Enphase micro-inverter technology will be utilized as will the Enphase Enlighten monitoring system.  This system continuously monitors the health and performance of the overall system as well as each individual solar module maximizing the array’s performance.

The solar water heating system’s 45 collectors will provide up to 40% of the energy required annually to heat the residents’ domestic hot water, which is provided to them at no cost. This will offset approximately 4,437 therms annually of the current natural gas usage.  

“By design, Affordable Housing Developments (AHD’s) are limited in the revenue they can generate and they strive to reduce costs in all facets of operations in order to maintain long-term affordability for the residents,” said Kirk Cameron, Co-Owner of DC•Energy. “BRIDGE Housing’s major objective on this retrofit was to over the long term reduce owner paid electric and gas bills. This premium PV and solar thermal system design combined with BRIDGE’S unique, sustainable building practices will allow them to substantially reduce the building’s carbon footprint.”

“Affordable housing developers place low-cost, high-efficiency energy where it’s needed the most,” said Cynthia Parker, President and CEO of BRIDGE Housing.  “Our objective in retrofitting the complex was to extend the viability of the development while positively impacting the living environment for the families fortunate enough to live at Fell Street and supporting the community’s goals of reducing energy consumption in San Francisco.  Because of that, we were very conscious in selecting a solar contractor that shared our concerns about system longevity as well as the long-term health of our residents,” Parker added. “We are grateful for the many financial partners who made this work possible.”
DC Energy was selected as the contractor of record working under S.D. Deacon Corp. of CA, the project’s general contractor.  The DC•Energy role on this project includes system design, engineering, installation and management. “Affordable housing solar rehabilitation projects present a lot of challenges  including structural load design, seismic code conformance, solar panel tilt and orientation analysis,” said Steve Deacon, Co-Owner of DC•Energy and President of S.D. Deacon Corp. 

“The combined resources and experience of DC•Energy allowed us to thoroughly determine the project scope and budget for BRIDGE Housing,” added Deacon.  “This is a true example of sustainability, combining clean energy with social support and DC• Energy is excited to be a part of it.”        

The Fell Street Apartment complex will take advantage of the California Solar Initiative’s Multi-Family Affordable Housing (MASH) Program, its CSI-Thermal rebate as well as a Go Solar San Francisco initiative to cover approximately 44% of the total system cost.  “CSI-Thermal incentives are currently at their highest tier, $19.23per therm offset, making solar thermal a compelling investment,” notes Cameron.  

The Fell Street Apartment solar project is scheduled for completion in July 2012 and the full repair and renewal project will conclude in October.  A celebration of the solar electric and thermal installations will take place in conjunction with the system cutovers and will include state and city officials, BRIDGE Housing, DC•Energy, S.D. Deacon Corp. of CA and Fell Street residents and employees.


BRIDGE Housing Corporation


Volume: May/June 2012