By Bruce Naegel, August 2016 —
The EHP (Ecumenical Hunger Program) Blockfest party celebrates the work EHP is doing for the community . This year, it will be on August 13 from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the EHP campus, 2411 Pulgas Avenue, East Palo Alto. The party is free, the food served is free, and there will be live music and entertainment. It is a good way to see EHP driving to a Net Positive Community in East Palo Alto.
Four organizations partnered for EHP’s roof and solar additions to help drive East Palo Alto to a Net Positive Community.
This year, Blockfest celebrates projects making EHP more energy efficient by driving to a Net Positive Community. This success is based on partnerships with Sustainable Silicon Valley (SSV) , Mitsubishi , and help from Sunwork . These projects help save the climate and save EHP money so they can put more into services. Blockfest will also feature an interactive model which displays energy efficiency, solar energy, and the cool roof. SSV is also partnering with the Air District to provide energy checkups for free to residents of East Palo Alto (see end of article for details).
EHP Started with an Energy Checkup (and so Can You)
The projects started out with EHP contacting SSV and asking what could be done to help move EHP to Net Positive. There are a number of buildings on the EHP campus and the one with the highest energy usage is the Program building. SSV confirmed this when doing an energy checkup on the building. This made the Program Building a good candidate for a solar array.
Note that later in this article there is information on how you as a homeowner can get your own Free Energy Checkup.
One Needs a Good Roof for Solar
One condition for a solar array is that the roof it is placed on has to be in good condition. Otherwise, one will have to remove the solar array, fix the roof, and then reinstall the array. The roof on the program building was over 30 years old and needed to be replaced.
The roof before (black) and then after (white) roof upgrade from the Mitsubishi Eco-Friendly Partnership.
Mitsubishi and the New Roof
Mitsubishi, an SSV partner in Palo Alto, wanted to do something visible for the community in East Palo Alto. Since Mitsubishi is in the energy business, it appealed to them to provide the new roof as part of the solar installation. The roof is a “cool roof” adding insulation and a reflective coating to lower the temperature in the building. This “cool roof” is in place since April 2016.
Adding Solar Energy with a Twist
Now that the roof was in place, it was time to bring in a solar installer, and the choice was Sunwork. Sunwork is a nonprofit organization supplying solar power systems to other nonprofit organizations at reduced prices. They do this based on donated solar components, volunteer labor, and grants. They made it possible for EHP to get the solar installation needed at a price they can afford.
We initially assumed the solar array would go on the Program Buildings roof to address the electricity consumed by that building. However, Sunwork suggested an even better approach — using the Warehouse building for the solar array. The warehouse roof has a better angle on the sun and is larger. This means a solar array on this roof will produce more electricity. In addition, any solar electricity generated anywhere on the EHP campus counts toward the total bill. So, it does not matter from a bill reduction perspective where the array is placed.
Get Your Own Energy Efficiency Checkup
It will be great for EHP to have this new solar array. The question is: What tools are available to the citizens of East Palo Alto to improve their home energy efficiency? The Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD or Air District)  has provided SSV with a grant to do energy checkups in 25 homes. Five checkups are in process and we’re lining up the rest to be completed in the next few months. If you live in East Palo Alto and are interested, please contact SSV at firstname.lastname@example.org. The checkup will identify specific items to be addressed. Where applicable, we will point the resident to programs that can help save energy and money. If you are a resident homeowner in certain areas of East Palo Alto, you may also qualify for a solar array at little to no cost. Contact SSV at the link above for more details.
Come to Blockfest
There are many reasons to celebrate at Blockfest this year. Enjoy the food and entertainment. Get a better picture of how energy savings work with an interactive display that will highlight cool roofs, solar energy and energy efficiency. Listen to music and meet with your neighbors. We hope to see you there.