Affordable-housing nonprofit Foundation Communities partnered with Spear Commercial & Industrial and Trina Solar US to commission a rooftop solar PV system at its Waterloo Terrace apartment complex in Austin, Texas.
Foundation Communities owns and operates 23 affordable-housing communities across Austin and three in North Texas. Currently, the organization plans to open three new facilities in the next year with five other projects in various stages of development.
“We are a Department of Energy Better Buildings Challenge partner and have goals to reduce our energy and water consumption by 20% over 10 years,” said Katelynn Essig, director of sustainability at Foundation Communities. “We also have a solar capacity goal to install 1.5 MW and the solar at Waterloo Terrace helped us meet that goal one year early. We pay the utilities for the 132 single adults that live with us and so the solar savings significantly reduce our operating costs, which allows us to invest that money back into the residents.”
Renewable energy investments in affordable housing result in cost savings for residents and housing providers. Energy is one of the highest controllable operating costs in affordable housing. High operating costs put a financial strain on already limited operating budgets. Reducing energy costs allows building owners to maintain affordable rents and invest in improving housing. With a large rooftop space, Foundation Communities made the investment to install a 250 kW solar system.
For the Waterloo project, Foundation Communities needed a developer that could get the job done efficiently and within budget. The organization selected Austin-based Spear, an engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) company that focuses on commercial and industrial (C&I) solar projects.
In turn, Spear tapped Trina as a partner to supply modules and enable the most efficient and cost-effective project possible.
“The Trina group I work with sells solar panels, the racking system, and the inverters all together so we don’t have compatibility issues,” said Mark Rangel, Spear executive vice president. “Trina negotiates all pricing with other manufacturers to deliver a solution that is extremely competitive. I see a lot of value in that because we’re a small company. I don’t have a large purchasing department and so it really helps.”
Trina’s C&I Solutions help optimize for the specifics of each site, allowing EPCs and developers to get the job done more efficiently, accurately and on time.
“By providing a complete solution, we’re making it easier for customers to finance and install large solar projects,” said Adam Jordan, head of U.S. commercial solutions at Trina Solar. “When all the equipment is compatible and optimized, including modules, inverters, and racking, projects become less challenging and more profitable.”