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El Rancho Apartments Make Affordable Housing a Reality with Solar Energy

Shannon Higgins

January 2019

DJI_0061_edited copy-1Community Development Partners’ (CDP) mission to operate sustainable, life-enhancing low-cost housing was a perfect fit for solar. This mission and goal made the addition of solar on the El Rancho del Sol apartments, an affordable housing provider in Mesa, an easy way to keep rent low by reducing electricity costs, while also contribute to a healthier and cleaner community.

“When we analyze the potential for long term savings and positive environmental impact, solar makes complete sense for us,” explained Kyle Paine, President of Community Development Partners. “The ability to take what we save on electricity and pass that back to the community is critical to our mission. We also hope to be an example for other affordable housing developers who are looking to hedge against rising energy costs that mostly burden those at the lower end of the income scale.”

When searching for a solar partner to complete their vision for El Rancho, CDP chose Sun Valley Solar Solutions for their excellent reputation, strong local utility and municipality relationships, and high standing as a SunPower Elite level dealer.

“Sun Valley Solar was extremely communicative and responsive throughout the entire process,” said Christian Hulme, Development Manager at Venue Projects, a CDP partner on the El Rancho Project. “They went above and beyond to be flexible and accommodating to our busy construction schedule and ensured the project was kept on time and on budget.”

Download the Case StudyWith CDP being a California-based company, it was important their panel supplier was close in proximity to their headquarters. They were familiar with the SunPower brand at the beginning of their solar research and the fact that they are an American company was a big motivator in their selection. With SunPower’s industry-leading warranties and unbeatable efficiencies, CDP knew their panels would be producing clean, affordable energy for tenants for decades.

In addition to energy savings, the environmental impact of El Rancho’s solar installation is equally compelling. The 66.054 kW SunPower system is projected to produce approximately 115,000 kWh of clean, affordable solar electricity annually. This is equivalent to offsetting the CO2 emissions from over 93,000 pounds of coal burned, or more than 209,000 miles driven in the average vehicle.

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“We always strive to be conscious of our impact to the surrounding environment and communities,” Hulme said. “With the rooftop decks being one of the key aspects of the project, we wanted to make them usable throughout the year, even in the hot Arizona summer months. This is usually done by shading the space, so it was natural to provide that shade with solar panels.”

The final design incorporates more than 200 panels arranged as a custom shade structure that expanded limited roof space to increase production capacity while providing welcome shade from the Arizona sun in shared residential areas. 

Adding solar to not just the El Rancho project, but to numerous other housing projects has helped CDP reduce operating costs and achieve LEED and Green Point Rated status. Adding these sustainable features not only shows the community and residents examples of how to use sustainability in affordable developments, but it also shows local jurisdictions they are committed to long-term viable, healthy communities.

“Affordable housing developments often leverage multiple sources of federal, state, and local financing, so it’s critical for us to ensure our developments don’t cause adverse side effects in the surrounding communities,” Paine said. “Solar is a no-brainer when it comes to achieving this goal. We can’t wait to see the positive benefits it adds to El Rancho and the local Mesa community.”

If you’re interested in learning how solar can help your business with its energy and financial goals, we invite you to schedule a consultation with a member of our commercial solar team. 

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