Nov. 9th, 2023
Like many commercial and private property owners, Operation Dignity is always looking for ways to reduce our energy bill while also reducing negative impacts to the planet. A project that has helped us achieve both of those goals has been taking place at House of Dignity this fall.
House of Dignity is the first building that Operation Dignity acquired and is actually two former single room occupancy (SRO) hotels that were built in the 1920s and combined at some point to form a 54-unit building which today provides a variety of housing from emergency shelter up to permanent supportive housing. Additionally, House of Dignity contains a kitchen and dining hall that serves 3 meals a day, 365 day a year; a laundry room, a community room and staff offices.
Like many buildings of its age, House of Dignity was operating with large boilers in the basement, which controlled hot water for the building and steam radiators for heat. We knew that this was an old and inefficient system but never thought that we could afford to upgrade. However, though a project with the Association for Energy Affordability (AEA), they were able to produce an energy model of the building that identified opportunities for efficiency and savings. They then helped compile a scope of work that could be used to hire a contractor as well as a list of contractors familiar with the type of work needed. Ultimately, we selected Andy McNamara of Carbon Zero Buildings, an Oakland-based firm, to complete the upgrades. In addition to focusing on energy efficient, multifamily buildings, Carbon Zero specializes in securing a variety of government incentives that could be used to make the project financially feasible on a nonprofit budget.
The boilers were replaced with a new central heat pump and water heater system including a new variable speed recirculation pump. The old radiators throughout the building were replaced with in-unit electric heaters. Other water and lighting efficiencies include installing faucet aerators on all sinks and showerheads and swapping out old light bulbs for LED bulbs in all lighting. fixtures . Construction began on Sept. 18th and is expected to be complete by mid-November.
Tax incentives reduced Operation Dignity’s out-of-pocket cost for the project from over $550,000 to less than $50,000.