When we talk about solar housing, we’re often talking about single-family homes. That’s about to change though, as larger buildings like apartment and condo complexes search for ways to improve their bottom line and attract tenants who appreciate a commitment to renewable energy.
Some states, like California, now mandate solar installations on all new construction, including multi-family buildings. Building owners across the country are taking note and considering how solar can improve the lives of their tenants, serve as an additional selling point, and help recoup energy costs over the long term.
Solar Benefits for Owners and Tenants
Whether in low-to-moderate income housing developments or high-end apartment and condo buildings, an investment in solar energy benefits both building owners and their tenants. This market represents a substantial share of the American populace who are gaining access to renewable energy in their living spaces. The ratio of renters to homeowners is at its highest point in 50 years, with nearly 37% of U.S. households renting rather than owning their own homes.
For building owners, the benefits of going solar are clear: savings and selling points. As the Center for Sustainable Energy notes, “Various utility programs enable the viability of solar for multifamily buildings. For instance, virtual net metering allows the kilowatt-hours from the energy produced by the solar photovoltaic (PV) system to be credited to multiple utility accounts… Another program, net energy metering aggregation, allows a single customer with multiple meters on the same property to install a system offsetting the aggregated load.”
Virtual Net Metering is a breakthrough for communities that share a common solar array, whether in a neighborhood or in a multifamily building. Combined with Net Energy Metering Aggregation (NEMA), which “is designed to benefit a single customer with multiple eligible meters on the same property, or on adjacent or contiguous properties," it reinforces the financial viability of multifamily solar. By enabling the distribution of weighted “credits” to those who have invested in a solar array, these technologies reduce energy costs and allow system owners or investors to sell excess power back to their local utility company.
In addition to saving money on energy, building owners can avoid paying increasing utility rates by providing their own power, reduce their environmental impact, and significantly boost the value of their property. “Eco-friendly” housing is also sought after by many prospective tenants and can add a boost to unit rentals and contribute to lower vacancy and turnover rates in multifamily properties. Tenants also benefit from passed-down savings on their electric bills, which is a powerful selling point!
Consulting Services for Multifamily Building Owners
At Solar Design Studio, our expertise includes consulting with building owners (whether improving an existing structure or constructing a new one) to maximize the impact of their solar investment. We not only help our clients correctly size their solar installations to suit their unique needs and desires, we’re also able to assist them in navigating financing options, tax credits, and other ways to reduce their investment and increase the financial benefits of solar adoption.
For example, Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy (C-PACE) loans can help property owners achieve significant savings over the life of their solar investment. As Buildings Magazine explains, owners “often see the annual utility savings resulting from solar panels being enough to cover the annual C-PACE financing amount for those solar panels. Essentially, you are structuring the solar panels to pay for themselves over time by using C-PACE financing.”
Other options include secured, low-interest loans from credit unions or banks that are specifically tailored towards improving energy efficiency and the availability of renewable energy. Leasing or power purchasing agreements also benefit some building owners, as the leasing fee is often lower than their typical monthly electric bill. No matter how you choose to finance a solar project, we can help you weigh your options.
Solar Design Studio’s consulting services have helped power projects from home solar installation through multifamily property development and beyond. We’re not just salesmen (although our Everything Solar program offers access to a wide range of products that enable solar customization), our goal is to guide clients towards a solar solution that perfectly fits their needs and maximizes their investment. Contact us today to learn more!