Corporate Social Responsibility writer for Justmeans, Antonio Pasolini is a journalist based in Brazil who writes about alternative energy, green living and sustainability. He also edits Energyrefuge.com, a top web destination for news and comment on renewable energy and Elpis.org, a recycled paper bag/magazine distributed from health food stores in London, formerly his hometown for over a decade....
Shelter for the Homeless in Orange County Goes Green
The Homeless Intervention and Shelter House (H.I.S.) in Placentia, Orange County, is not only helping homeless people. Thanks to a retrofit sponsored by HomeAid Orange County, the place is now green and energy efficient, which translates into savings and less emissions. The project was carried out as part of a national Environmental Sustainability Program (ESP) created by HomeAid America and Walmart. It was supported by Owens Corning.
HomeAid Orange County selected the farmhouse, which has been operating as a shelter since 1989 by Placentia Presbyterian, because the structure presented a major opportunity to carry out the retrofits. "We are very excited to see the estimated energy savings the national ESP provides," said Scott Larson, executive director of HomeAid OC. "These savings will allow H.I.S. House to direct even more of its funds to operating programs rather than facility maintenance, which will result in a greater concentration on resident assistance."
Since 1989, HomeAid OC has built or retrofitted nearly 50 shelters, providing more than 1,050 beds for the transitionally homeless. The target metrics for the national ESP program aims for at least 40 percent in savings in annual utility costs. The goal is to recover the cost of the energy saving retrofits in five years or less. Currently, H.I.S. House has yearly energy costs of $10,364. As a result of the complete energy retrofit, it is estimated that is will save $8,950 per year, or 86 percent of the current total.
In order to make the building more energy efficient, the project replaced both HVAC systems; lights were replaced with new energy efficient fluorescents; the attic was insulated; new Energy Star Roofing and Solar and Thermal Panel Systems were set up; Energy Star appliances were brought in. One of the most sophisticated aspects of the retrofit was the installation of an Echo solar system that delivers twice the energy of a basic solar electric photovoltaic (PV) system by supplementing conventional solar panels with a unique solar thermal technology that captures the heat from the PV panels. Echo systems generate not only electricity, but also hot water for washing and bathing. This Echo system will generate 90 percent of the heated water and 10 percent of the H.I.S. building's total electricity.
HomeAid is one of the nation's largest providers of housing for the homeless, with more than 275 shelters for the homeless in 15 states and the District of Columbia. Altogether the shelters cost $178 million. Half of this money has been donated by the builders, trade contractors, and suppliers of America's building industry. HomeAid's facilities have now housed more than 145,000 homeless people seeking an opportunity to rebuild their lives.
HomeAid's Environmental Sustainability Program provides a sustainability template to thousands of multi-unit group residential facilities across the country on how to retrofit their own facilities become efficient and eco-friendly. The organization plans to publish the results of the program online in a format that can help service providers in their own retrofitting efforts.
Image credit: Orange County Register