Better Buildings Visits the Mile-High City

By Better Buildings Beat Team on Jun 11, 2015

This week the Energy Department’s Better Buildings Challenge director Maria T. Vargas visited three Better Buildings Challenge showcase projects in the cities of Denver and Arvada Colorado, and had the honor of being joined by U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Julian Castro.

During the tours, DOE and HUD saw exciting and high-impact energy projects, and heard about the various ways that partners are deploying energy efficiency and solar in homes, a city-owned office building, and a police station.

The first tour started at North Lincoln Homes, where solar panels were definitely put to work under the blazing hot sun. Here, Better Buildings Challenge multifamily housing partner Denver Housing Authority spearheaded the installation of solar photovoltaic systems on rooftops of 665 homes, spanning 57,000 square feet of affordable housing.

The Denver Post quoted Secretary Castro in saying “We’re excited about local communities taking the lead and innovating like Denver has.”

A prime example of that innovation is the unique power purchase agreement that Denver Housing Authority pursued, which allowed them to finance over 10,000 solar panels and reduce energy use by 19 percent, saving $12,000 annually for the North Lincoln Homes community.

Next, the Energy Department toured the city of Denver’s Department of Human Services Castro Building. Building retrofits have resulted in an impressive annual savings of 36 percent. The building also features 30 kW of solar photovoltaic panels.

The last stop on the tour was just outside Denver, to the city of Arvada. As a Better Buildings Challenge partner, the city has already achieved an 8 percent reduction in energy use since 2009. Their West Woods and Lake Arbor police substations are “signature examples of how we can embrace sustainable practices without sacrificing creativity, security of efficiency,” according to Marc Williams, Mayor of Arvada.  Inside the station, a community room was also created to encourage local groups to use the facility more as both a community center and police station.

Be sure to check out all of our Denver-area partners and their showcase projects and playbooks at the Better Buildings Solution Center: