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Casa Verde: Solara

Solara, a new apartment community in San Diego County, California, is the first apartment complex in the country that is completely powered by solar energy. But that's not all—these homes are also affordable, and are built for families that make only moderate incomes.

This project was made possible through a collaboration with the city of Poway, California, Community Housing Works, and Global Green USA. People who make 30 percent to 60 percent of the area's median income are eligible to live at Solara, which means that a family of four is eligible if their annual income is less than $41,100, or a single person is eligible if she makes less than $28,750 Residents pay between $388 and $1,075 per month, depending on their incomes and whether they are renting a one-, two- or three-bedroom apartment. Utilities are included in the rent.

The apartments are made even more affordable given that they include such energy-saving features as passive solar orientation, cool roofs, low-e windows, Energy Star appliances, and tankless boilers for hot water. The homes also feature low-flow restrictors, dual flush toilets, and native landscaping, which saves on water. The homes also feature recycled materials such as linoleum, green carpet (with carpet pad from recycled clothing), plastic-composite decking material, and fly ash in concrete. Healthy indoor environmental quality is provided by natural cross ventilation, low-VOC paints and finishes, formaldehyde-free insulation and cabinets, chlorine-free air conditioning, and ample mechanical ventilation.

To see how this project was funded, just

The project’s renewable energy systems, such as the solar panels, were financed almost entirely by energy rebates and tax credits, including rarely used state and federal financial incentives for multifamily housing. Funding for the $16.3 million project comes from Union Bank of California, the City of Poway, the County of San Diego, the California Energy Commission (CEC) and National Equity Fund.

SOLARA has the lowest carbon footprint of any apartment complex in California, a full 95 percent lower than a conventionally powered community! This means that Solara is able to avoid producing more than 1,800 tons of carbon dioxide each year, which is equivalent to planting 5,446 trees or taking 300 cars off the road annually.


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