U.S. Bancorp Community Development Corporation (CDC) is committed to renewable evergy investments. In 2017, we committed over $1.8 billion in renewable evergy projects throughout the U.S. Through these investments, we helped power more than 460,000 homes and employ over 27,000 people. The carbon off-set of these investments is equal to taking 668,000 cars off the road or planting 3.6 million acres of forest.
We are continuing to build new branch locations to the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified standards. To date, we have 26 LEED certified branches with plans to build more locations in the future.
Powering our nation's communities
In 2008, USBCDC entered the renewable energy market when it invested in the installation of photovolatic systems on owner occupied, single to four-family dwelling units in Litchfield, CT, an investment that provided rooftop systems for 1,000 homes.
As of December 2017, USBCDC has outfitted over 262,000 homes and businesses with solar panels.
Adam Altenhofen, USBCDC renewable energy vice president says, "As a leader in this space, we are committed to supporting residential solar in a meaningful way, and our financing is crucial in making this option viable for people. Our goal is to expand access to more communities."
Another early entrant to the renewable energy space was Sunrun, the nation's largest dedicated provider of residential solar. It was founded in 2007, at a time when the nation was going through an economic recession. A year later, Sunrun's cofounder was looking for a financing partner to support the installation of rooftop solar panels on homes throughout California.
He contacted around 40 institutions, which didn't have the financial leverage to take on their project. On the other hand, USBCDC had the ability to support residential solar. Since then, both companies have worked on 15 projects together.
"Residential solar wouldn't have thrived the way it did without USBCDC's support of the industry," says Edward Fenster, unrun cofounder and executive chairman. "USBCDC is unusually fast to find a way to bring the necessary components together to complete our projects."
USBCDC has been a catalyst in this field in that it provides the financing necessary to support this effort.
Villa Hermosa - Santa Fe
Genevieve Maes remembers the first time she noticed solar panels on the roof of the newly rehabbed affordable housing complex for seniors where she live in New Mexico.
"I always wondered if those panels can keep our homes cool, and they actually do!" says Maes, an 81-year-old resident of the Santa Fe's Villa Hermosa affordable housing community for seniors. "My family says that I am so lucky to live in a place that feels comfortable without having to worry about the cost of electricity."
With temperatures soaring into the 90s during the summer, New Mexico's elderly residents can find themselves doubly vulnerable: seniors are often more susceptible to hear illness and living on a fixed income might make them reluctant to incur high utility costs to keep cool.
The Santa Fe Civic Housing Authority, an agency created in 1961 to build and operate low- and moderate-income housing, has already began to focus on sustainability for its residents.
"Our goal is to keep utility costs as low as possible for our tenants, who can face eviction if they cannot pay for their utilities," explained Ed Romero, executive director of the Santa Fe Civic Housing Autority. "To support this community it was critical to create our own energy through solar applications."
U.S. Bancorp Community Development Corporation (USBCDC), the tax credit subsidiary of U.S. Bank, started to work with the housing authority in 2011. Since then, both entities have completed five projects, including Villa Hermosa, that provide almost 300 affordable, energy-efficient housing units for seniors and 200 low-income families. USBCDC has invested more than $45 million in low-income housing and renewable energy tax credits in all projects.
"It is so rewarding to know that these projects will have a positive impact on this community for many years to come," says Andrew Rydell assistant vice president at USBCDC.
The housing authority operates 330 buildings that house close to 900 affordable living units. Fifty-four percent of those units are occupied by seniors. This includes six buildings that received a low-income housing tax credit investment in the past eight years, all of which have rooftop solar systems.
Completed in 2017, the Villa Hermosa project focused on renovating almost 120 affordable, energy-efficient apartments spread across one-story buildings. The project meets the LEED green construction standards, including solar panels on the buildings' roofs, LED lighting, ENERGY STAR appliances, energy efficient cooling and heating systems, and courtyards landscaped with drought-tolerant plant species.
Romero says that without access to solar energy the housing authority wouldn't be able to transfer those savings to seniors.
"Affordable housing projects serve a population that has a limited budget," Romero says. "Therefore, we see sustainability as a great opportunity to manage costs and to share those benefits with our residents."
Utah - Artspace Greenery
When glass artist Sarinda Jones realized that the cost of her mortgage and electricity bills were too high, she knew it was time to take action.
"As a single mother, I have to find ways to save money to be able to support my business and my family," says Jones, who used to run her business, Sarinda's Studio, out of her home's garage. After she got divorced, she had to find an affordable place to live and to operate her studio.
So she reached out to Artspace Greenery, an affordable housing development located in a low-income community in Salt Lake City, Utah. However, at Artspace she found not just a new home, but also an energy-efficient space for her art studio.
It is such a great opportunity to be able to run my studio in a place that supports clean energy, which helps me save the cost of electricity required to run my business," add Jones.
In 2017, U.S. Bancorp Community Development Corporation, the tax credit subsidiary of U.S. Bank, invested in the commercial portion of Artspace Greenery, providing more than 5,500 square feet of affordable street-level commercial space for artists, cultural organizations and non-profits. It has over 56 kilowatts of solar panels on the building's roof, awnings, and adjacent solar structures to provide enough energy annually to power the entire project. Artspace includes other sustainable features such as rainwater harvesting, collection irrigation, and community gardens for neighborhood residents to grow their own food.
Jones describes her glass art as a kind of alchemy - the application of both artistry and chemistry. To mold the glass she uses a kiln, a type of oven thermally insulated that produces temperatures sufficient to harden, dry or change the shape of glass. Before moving her studio to Artspace, she used to pay $300 a month on electricity just for running the kiln. Now she doesn't have that expense.
"I am so grateful to be able to live and work in such a strong and visible community, and the fact that my studio is part of a sustainable environment makes it that much more rewarding," says Jones.
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