FREMONT, CA — Affordable housing nonprofit, Foundation Communities, in partnership with Spear Commercial & Industrial (Spear) and Trina Solar US (Trina), recently commissioned a rooftop solar PV system at its Waterloo Terrace (Waterloo) apartment complex in Austin, Texas. Now, Foundation Communities can power Waterloo with renewables to accelerate its sustainability goals and provide free solar energy to the complex’s residents.
Bettering Lives for Austin Communities
Foundation Communities owns and operates 23 affordable-housing communities across Austin and three in North Texas. Currently, the organization plans on opening three new facilities in January of next year, with five other projects in various stages of development.
In addition to providing affordable housing, Foundation Communities has sustainability goals, which sets it apart from other affordable non-profit organizations.
“We are a Department of Energy Better Buildings Challenge partner and have goals to reduce our energy and water consumption by 20% over ten years,” said Katelynn Essig, Director of Sustainability at Foundation Communities. “We also have a solar capacity goal to install 1.5-megawatt (MW) and the solar at Waterloo Terrace helped us meet that goal one year early. We pay the utilities for the 132 single adults that live with us and so the solar savings significantly reduce our operating costs, which allows us to invest that money back into the residents.”
Renewable energy investments in affordable housing result in cost savings for residents and housing providers. Energy is one of the highest controllable operating costs in affordable housing. High operating costs put a financial strain on already limited operating budgets. Reducing energy costs allows building owners to maintain affordable rents and invest in improving housing. With a large rooftop space, Foundation Communities made a worthwhile investment and installed a 250-kilowatt (KW) solar system.
Available rooftop space and Austin sunshine were not the only two pieces of the ambitious puzzle. Foundation Communities needed a developer that could get the job done efficiently and within budget.
Making a Difference Through Streamlined Procurement
Spear is an engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) company focusing on commercial and industrial (C&I) solar projects. Based in Austin, they were the top candidate to bring the Waterloo rooftop solar installation to life. But instead of purchasing modules from an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) that simply sells hardware, Spear needed a partner who could streamline and enable the most efficient and cost-effective project possible.
There was only one option: Trina Solar US.
US-based and regionally focused, the C&I Solutions team at Trina Solar US streamlines procurement, design, and installations, from financing to development to supply chain management to interconnection.
“By providing a complete solution, we're making it easier for customers to finance and install large solar projects,” said Adam Jordan, Trina Solar Head of US Commercial Solutions. “When all the equipment is compatible and optimized, including modules, inverters, and racking, projects become less challenging and more profitable.”
Spear took advantage of Trina’s smart commercial solar solution to make Foundation Communities’ sustainability goals a reality.
“The Trina group I work with sells solar panels, the racking system, and the inverters all together so we don’t have compatibility issues,” said Mark Rangel, Spear Executive Vice President. “And Trina negotiates all pricing with other manufacturers to deliver a solution that is extremely competitive. I see a lot of value in that because we’re a small company. I don't have a large purchasing department and so it really helps.”
Trina’s C&I Solutions go beyond simplifying the process and eliminating interconnection delays. They optimize for the specifics of each site, eliminating guesswork for every project, and enabling EPCs and developers to get the job done more efficiently, accurately, and on time, ultimately leading to higher PV project value.
Inside the Blueprint
This partnership drew the attention of the producers at Inside the Blueprint, who helped bring the story to life through video. Bob Holodak, Senior Producer and Programming Manager said, “When we spoke with the team at Trina Solar, we saw alignment between our sustainability objectives and their desire to create education highlighting the benefits associated with commercial & industrial solar and renewable energy solutions.”
He continued, “Trina Solar US, Spear, and Foundation Communities made it clear that a more sustainable future and more equitable renewable energy adoption are not mutually exclusive goals. For Inside The Blueprint, having a case study feature, an affordable housing project showcasing real cost saving for this community provides a great example and pathway to expanding these types of projects on a national basis.”
More about Spear Commerical & Industrial: https://www.spearcommercial.com/
More about Foundation Communities: https://foundcom.org/
About Trina Solar
Since its founding 25 years ago, Trina Solar has shipped more than 100GW of modules, generating green power for customers in more than 100 countries and regions, and remains dedicated to building a carbon-emissions-free world.
Regarding product value, technological innovation, and financial performance, Trina Solar has obtained wide technical and brand recognition from renowned independent institutes worldwide, demonstrating the PV market's strong confidence in Trina Solar. The company has scored 100% in the BNEF Bankability Survey for seven consecutive years and has been rated AAA in the Q2 PV ModuleTech Bankability report by PV-Tech. The company has also been ranked as Top Performer by PVEL and named an Overall High Achiever by RETC.