Sun Electric Systems is supplying solar photovoltaic and thermal systems for a groundbreaking new affordable housing development in Lafayette, Colorado. On June 30th, Colorado governor Bill Ritter dedicated the Eagle Place project by guiding a crane to place the first of 96 solar thermal panels on a roof. The project also includes a 64 kilowatt solar electric system consisting of 322 solar photovoltaic panels for 60 housing units. (An average home system for a family of four in the region needs about 6-8 kilowatts). Sun Electric Systems specializes in architecturally integrated renewable energy systems, and the photovoltaic panels at Eagle Place are mounted as solar awnings that also provide shade for each unit in the summer, while allowing low winter sunshine into the apartments.
"This is Colorado's most energy efficient affordable housing project and our goal is to be the nation's most energy efficient," says Amory Host of Peak Properties. "We are setting a national and statewide precedent on how solar energy systems are funded in affordable housing projects."
The solar systems in Eagle Place are the result of a pioneering new financing model for renewable energy in federally subsidized housing that shifts revenues from the utility to the builder. Since there are currently no financial incentives for affordable housing developers or public housing authorities to pursue renewable energy development, Eagle Place owners obtained certification for reductions in utilities due to conservation measures, and got permission to increase the rental income - with no additional expense to the residents. That extra income is used by the builder to service debt on renewable energy investments.
The Eagle Place development is estimated to use 50% of the energy of comparable buildings, and is expected to exceed Colorado Built Green standards by 250%. The community is being developed by a unique public/private partnership between Peak Properties & Development Corp. and the Boulder County Housing Authority. The project has been financed through a combination of City, County, State, Federal (HUD) non- profit and private financing sources.
Mona Newton, marketing manager for Sun Electric Systems said "Sun Electric Systems advocates for renewable energy housing for all sectors of society. This is the standard that all housing should be built to, now and in the future." She explained that each of the Sharp photovoltaic panels will produce 208 watts of power, which is an excess of 1.5 million kilowatt hours per year for the entire development. Any electricity that is not being used will be fed back into the utility grid to offset electricity costs. Each of the twelve-panel solar thermal systems will provide hot water to a 480 gallon storage system for domestic hot water and space heating.
Eagle Place Townhouses consists of 60 two and three bedroom family-oriented rentals. It is permanently deed restricted for families earning less than 40% of the Boulder County area median income. It was designed by George Watt Architecture and is being built by Shaw Construction LLC.
Eagle Place also includes energy efficient lighting, windows and insulation, an integrated hot water and furnace system, and low-water landscape design. Combined with the renewable energy systems, these efficiency measures will reduce energy consumption and resulting carbon emissions by 50%.