Renewable Energy Resources - Case Studies

The following case studies are examples of the successful introduction of renewables in federally-assisted properties. Click the case study title to view the full case study.

Denver Housing Authority: Leveraging Power Purchase Agreements for Scattered Site Solar Installations

Activity Type: Solar Photovoltaic

Project Details: Retrofit

Size/Rating: 2.5 mW; 10470 panels; Average 3.8kW per unit

On Site Generation: 3,397,576kWh/yr; Average: 5,101 kWh per unit/year

Cost: $10 million (Avg $4.00/ watt)

The Housing Authority of the City and County of Denver launched a public-private partnership to install solar photovoltaic systems across its portfolio of scattered-site, single family residential buildings. The installations are financed through a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with a solar provider that enables the PHA to achieve solar installations with no up-front capital costs. Under the PPA, the meter holders would pay for the power generated from the installed systems, initially priced at a rate roughly comparable to the current rates. Energy savings would occur in out-years as utility rates increased beyond the energy rate specified in the PPA.

EAH Housing: LIHTC Program Advances Whole Project Solar Systems without Added Subsidies in Richmond, CA

Activity Type: Solar Photovoltaic

Project Details: Rehabilitation

Size/Rating: 900kW; 4,285 panels

On Site Generation: 1,220,832  kWh; 60-80% of community electric demands

Cost Savings: $154,000 per year

Cost: $ 8 million

At the time of construction, the 900 kW photovoltaic system at Crescent Park, an affordable housing complex in Richmond, California, was the largest solar system installed on a multifamily affordable housing project in the nation. The renewable investments at Crescent Park were undertaken in conjunction with the acquisition and rehabilitation of the property by EAH. This was an ideal time to incorporate renewable investments in the project’s capital plan because a variety of funding resources in play, and in many states preferences or added resources can be secured for energy investments. Through LIHTC, federal renewable investment tax credits and additional financing through the California Solar Initiative program, EAH was able to include an ambitious solar retrofit plans for the property.

El Paso Housing Authority: Renewables Provide Foundation for Zero Net Energy

Activity Type: Net Zero Project, Solar Photovoltaic, Wind Turbine | Project Details: New Construction

Size/Rating: 185kW; 165 kW PV; 710 panels; 20 kW Wind Turbines (2)

On Site Generation: Over 330,000 kWh/yr (Solar PV); Offset 4,190 kWh/unit/yr 

Cost Savings: $43,245 ; $544 per unit | Cost: Solar: $966,000 | Total Project Costs: $10.9 million

Paisano Green Community is a newly constructed 73-unit senior housing facility located in central El Paso. Paisano Green Community is unique compared to other energy efficient buildings since it is part of a vanguard of new Zero Net Energy (ZNE) developments. Through innovative passive and active building systems, the project will minimize its energy consumption. To get to ZNE, renewable energy systems are used to offset the heating, cooling and plug loads demanded by occupants, such that the energy produced on site will equal or exceed energy consumed on site. This requires a deep a comprehensive understanding of climate conditions, building science, the performance of building systems, and occupant behavior.

Santa Barbara County Housing Authority: Public Housing Authority Portfolio Wide Solar Installation

Activity Type: Solar Photovoltaic

Project Details: Retrofit

Size/Rating: 1.7 mW; 7,200 panels

On Site Generation: 2.6 million kWh/yr; offsets 100% of tenant electric use

Cost Savings: $300,000 (@$0.15/kWh)

Cost: $12.25 million

The Housing Authority of the County of Santa Barbara (HACSB) has successfully implemented a portfolio-wide renewable energy strategy offsetting 100% of the electrical consumption at 21 properties and HACSB’s administration buildings. The 1.7 mW project involved the installation of over 1,700 solar photovoltaic panels on 250 buildings serving 863 dwelling units located in 6 permitting jurisdictions served by 3 different utility companies and is the largest renewable energy project undertaken by a public housing authority to date.


National Housing Trust/Enterprise: National Housing Trust Renewable Solar Financing Model

Implementation Model: Solar Financing Model

Organization Type: Affordable housing

Barrier: Financing solar energy in affordable multifamily housing

Solution: The creation of a separate business entity, NHT Renewable, to own, operate, and manage solar installations.

The National Housing Trust/Enterprise Preservation Corporation is an affiliate of the National Housing Trust, a non-profit engaged in preserving affordable housing. In order to combat the impact of volatile energy prices and harness more environmentally-friendly energy sources, NHT/Enterprise Preservation Corporation installed solar systems on its multifamily affordable housing properties and is working with other multifamily housing owners to do the same. The initiative established to own and operate the systems is called NHT Renewable. The first major NHT Renewable project was completed in Fall 2014—the installation of 14 solar systems across 13 buildings in Washington, D.C.

Federal Partner Resource

Better Buildings Challenge

This website provides information on the Better Buildings Challenge, an initiative that supports commercial and industrial building owners by providing technical assistance and proven solutions to energy efficiency. Website resources include best practices, guides, tools, and webinars related to the Better Buildings Challenge and its partners and allies.


More case studies can be found on the following websites:

HUD Office of Policy Development and Research

Bringing Solar Energy to Underserved Communities in Massachusetts

Green Building Information Gateway

Special Collection: Federally Assisted Multifamily Renewables

Special Collection: Multi-Family Projects with On-Site Renewables