Just southwest of Seattle, the Sixth Place Apartments development in White City was originally only supposed to be “solar ready”. Now, thanks to funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) and solar tax credits, the project has grown to become what the developer says will be the largest residential solar installation in the state of Washington.
The Sixth Place Apartments are part of Greenbridge, a mixed income community that will ultimately be comprised of 900 rental and for-sale homes. All 9 roofs of the Sixth Place apartment development are being outfitted with a total of 213 solar photovoltaic (PV) panels to create what is reported to be a 50.1 kilowatt array. When the housing unit was initially designed, cost constraints took a full blown solar installation off of the table but the current economic climate wound up making the project feasible. With the help of $375,000 in Recovery Act funds and an additional $125,000 in tax credits, the King County Housing Authority was able to meet the $500,000.00 total installation price.
When fully operational, the array is expected to generate 52,558 kilowatt hours of clean energy per year, with any excess power going back into the grid. There are other energy efficiency strategies at work to make these sustainable homes, too. The buildings’ walls, roofs and windows are being insulated to standards significantly beyond code requirements and Energy Star lighting is being used on the interior and exterior of the building. Solar powered attic fans are being installed to keep units cooler during summer months by venting hot air from the attic and light tubes will minimize the need to use electric lighting during daylight hours.
The King County Housing Authority’s efforts at creating sustainable housing in the area has a solar installation located on the roof of the community center at Greenbridge, as well as at twelve other sites that they own or manage.