How One Condo Community Might Just Set a Trend For Going Green
2 weeks ago I had posted a story “The Argyle Condo Association Goes Solar” which left me wondering more about the developer of the Argyle Condos Wayne Gleason and and solar company, Solar Solutions LLC. So the following post comes as part of interviews I had with each of the firms and in the process learned about a flurry of neighborhoods going solar and the condo development behind the Argyle which is looking towards a level of LEED certification.
I will keep this focused primarily on the solar and green community aspects I was able to learn about during our discussion.
Wayne Gleason the developer of the Argyle condos definitely comes off as a stylistic entrepreneur eager to jump into a project rife with potential and opportunity. A the time of developing the project in 2002 Mt. Pleasant was at the cross roads of opportunity and Gleason was ready to take on a massive revitalization effort that involved an initial lead paint remediation effort throughout the interior and exterior of the building with EPA testing along the way. Green building in DC at this time was definitely under the radar and solar applications on rooftops was distant thought for most builders.
What’s interesting is that the development of the Argyle was not set out to be a “green” building with LEED certifications per se when Gleason took it on, it came about more so through a combined community effort or grass roots approach from the condo association, residents and Gleason adding professional guidance and experience throughout the varied key decisions. When Gleason started learning more about the possibility of adding solar to the roof top of the Argyle, the one immediate advantage he saw was that they had plenty of unused space available with an unobstructed view of the sun!
Gleason met with several solar installation companies in order to learn more about what several vendors might be able to offer in terms of service and price. It wasn’t until a meeting with Atta Kiarash of Solar Solutions that the Argyle Condo Association and Gleason felt they had the right company on board. Solar Solutions proposed an interesting business case with a Power Purchase Agreement and incorporating a system that would handle 70-80% of the common area electrical demand for the building.
A power purchase agreement works similar to utility company structure where you agree to purchase electricity at a certain fixed rate via production from the solar panels over a specified period of time. Solar Solutions proposal was unique in several regards as Gleason shared with me.
The Argyle Proposal + Benefits
- No upfront solar installation costs to the Argyle
- 11$cents kWh for the life of the system
- 5 year PPA agreement at $3,500/yr
- 5 years solar system is sold to the condo association for $100
- Supply 70-80% common area electrical demand
Solar Solutions Benefits
- The Argyle Condo Assoc. passes the Renewable Energy tax credits and grants to Solar Solutions
- Solar Solutions Depreciates the cost of the system for 5 years before selling it back to the Assoc. at $100.
So what does all this amount to? Some big savings when it comes to condo fees as we all know condo fees only go up! Gleason estimates the association is saving between $8,000-$10,000 a year in utility costs. I then had to ask him so how much have the condo fees gone up over the years and he replied “none” and how much are the expected go up and he said “well the reserves are so strong now and are costs have been reduced, so probably very little over the next five years”
Gleason also shared with me that the building currently has a pretty good recycling program at the time with all the residents behind the effort and that they are considering a food waste composting program in the coming months. I was also able to learn that Gleason sees the need for buildings incorporating as many green community elements as possible and that he is looking at ways the building can implement rain water capturing for their extensive entry way gardens maintained by the residents.
So what does all this mean in our urban environment filled with an abundant supply of condo buildings of all ages? If a 100 year old building in DC with a new condo association and sharp developer can bridge the divide of a traditional style development effort by layering in “green community” measures, just about every residential condo building in DC can look towards the successes that the Argyle Condo Association and developer have been able to organize as a path forward for all!
More posts to follow on the 14th St Heights block that went solar!
Green DC Realty Team
Phoenix Real Estate Solutions