Shelter Hill going green

By Soren Hemmila | Jan. 9, 2013

Affordable housing is going green as solar retrofitting and other efficient technologies are being utilized in the refurbishing of a complex in Mill Valley. Shelter Hill, a 75-unit housing complex in Mill Valley managed by EAH Housing, is going solar starting this month. The solar installation will provide predictable energy bills and reduce the utility costs paid by the residents each month.

The complex, which hosts four four-bedroom, 40 three-bedroom and 27 two-bedroom apartments, also includes a community room with a kitchen, a computer learning center and outdoor play areas for kids.

Of the 275 to 300 residents who call Shelter Hills home, many are lower income or living on fixed incomes. Reducing the ever rising energy costs will provide a welcome reduction of out of pocketing heating, cooling and electrical costs, EAH officials said.

Built in 1975 and in need of a redo both aesthetically and to bring the property up to modern standards, the planned greening of the complex was something EAH was very interested in.

“It is a mission of our company. We want to make the units green as we can as well as the common areas as it benefits everybody,” EAH project manager Dave Egan said.

The upgrades will include a new solar electricity system, which will be installed by Berkeley’s Sun Light & Power. It is made up of 138 Trina 280W solar modules on the roofs of the buildings.

The cost of green rehab pays for itself in utility savings while reducing energy usage by 25 percent for the entire property. Each unit will be installed with hydronic heating and cooling systems, energy efficient double glazed windows, low flow water usage toilets and new refrigerators.

Sun Light & Power has installed solar electricity as well as solar hot water systems at other EAH Housing communities. The company recently completed its largest affordable housing solar installation Crescent Park in Richmond.

“Shelter Hill was a property built in the mid 1970s in southern Marin. It has been operating as affordable housing ever since. Now it is time to refresh the property to bring it up to modern standard,” Egan said.

The property will also be getting other upgrades as part of the redo which will consist of the installation of energy efficient appliances, high-efficiency water heaters, dual-pane windows, water-saving fixtures and native-plant landscaping. Over half of EAH properties have been retrofitted with green technologies and the other half have received energy use audits.

Established in 1968, EAH Housing manages 102 properties in California and Hawaii.

The project is slated to be completed in June or July 2013 with a celebration planned for August.