Florida nonprofit group installs solar to reduce energy costs for homeless veterans

St. Johns Housing Partnership veterans solar

St. Augustine, Florida-based construction nonprofit St. Johns Housing Partnership plans to harness solar energy to help power its main office and three of six apartment units for homeless veterans.

Completed in early May 2023 in partnership with Everybody Solar, the installation includes two components: A solar array at the office and another at the veterans’ apartment units, known as Patriot Place. The combined installation of 21.87 kW solar array systems will help reduce the financial burden for inhabitants and promote the use of solar energy in the community.

“We hope to showcase this solar system as a way to generate more interest and support for solar initiatives in our area,” said Bill Lazar, director of the St. Johns Housing Partnership. “As a green-certified organization, we are proud to expand access to solar energy in our community.”

The solar array is expected to provide energy savings of $2,500 annually for the organization and $1,926 for its tenants.

“Providing a path to affordable housing and minimizing energy costs for veterans experiencing homelessness is just one of the goals of St. Johns Housing Partnership,” Lazar added.

Each apartment unit contains one bedroom and measures 630 square feet. Each veteran will pay about 30% of market rate with the help of subsidies through the nonprofit’s fundraising efforts. The purpose of making these apartments as energy and water efficient as possible is to keep down the overall long-term costs for the to benefit both the St. Johns Housing Partnership and the tenants.

“Low-income populations often struggle to pay bills, making solar energy a valuable solution to reduce costs and increase access to renewable energy.” said Myriam Scally, executive director of Everybody Solar. “However, limited resources, knowledge, and infrastructure often hinder the adoption of solar energy in these communities, creating an unjust energy transition. We are excited to partner with the St. Johns Housing Partnership to help both their operations and support veterans at Patriot Place.”

Patriot Place will be certified “Florida Green” by the Florida Green Building Coalition (FGBC). Founded in 2000, FGBC is the state’s leading certifier of green projects. The FGBC Certification Program tailors’ carbon-reducing, green building standards to the Florida climate, allowing builders, developers and communities to meet green building standards while simultaneously constructing sustainable properties best suited for Florida’s ecosystem.

“As a veteran myself, I’m proud to be part of a company that champions the veteran community. Thanks to our long-term partnership with Everybody Solar, we’re able to once again give back to veterans who are supported through St. John’s Housing Partnership,” said Watson Occilien, operations manager of the JinkoSolar factory in Jacksonville, Florida. “On behalf of the veterans that I am fortunate to call friends and colleagues and the entire Jinko team, we are honored to contribute these solar panels and make a difference in our community.”

Donors and partners for this project include: Synergy Solar, anonymous donors, and Kathryn Cryts, David Ellis, Joshua Hedlund, Connor Howell, Carolyn McInness.

— Solar Builder magazine

[source: https://solarbuildermag.com/projects/florida-nonprofit-installs-solar-reduce-energy-costs-homeless-veterans/]


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