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Once Energy Inefficient, 100-Year-Old Placentia Farmhouse, Now a Shelter for the Homeless, is Hailed as a Model of Environmental Sustainability

Supported by HomeAid OC, H.I.S. House was Chosen for Complete Energy Retrofitting as Part of National Program Launched by HomeAid America and Walmart and supported by Owens Corning.

Placentia, CA, July 07, 2012 --( A century-old farmhouse in Placentia that was converted into a shelter for the temporarily homeless is hailed as a model of environmental sustainability. Supported by HomeAid Orange County and operated by Placentia Presbyterian Church, the charming two-story farmhouse was recently completely retrofitted by HomeAid Orange County with energy-efficient upgrades. The project was part of a national Environmental Sustainability Program (ESP) created by HomeAid America and Walmart and supported by Owens Corning.

HomeAid Orange County selected the farmhouse – founded as a shelter in 1989 by Placentia Presbyterian and operated as the H.I.S. (Homeless Intervention and Shelter) House – because the structure presented an opportunity for major energy retrofitting due to outdated systems and building components.

“We are very excited to see the estimated energy savings the national ESP provides,” said Scott Larson, executive director of HomeAid OC. “These savings will allow H.I.S. House to direct even more of its funds to operating programs rather than facility maintenance, which will result in a greater concentration on resident assistance.”

Since it was founded in 1989 by the Orange County chapter of the Building Industry Association, HomeAid OC has built or retrofitted nearly 50 shelters, providing more than 1,050 beds for the transitionally homeless. Larson said the need is more urgent than ever: In Orange County, thousands of men, women and children are homeless due primarily to circumstances beyond their control. “Shelters like H.I.S. House play a key role in HomeAid OC’s mission to build doorways for homeless families that help them begin the journey from benches to beds, and from shelters back to self-sufficiency,” Larson said.

The target metrics for the national ESP program are to save at least 40 percent in annual utility costs and to recover the cost of the energy saving retrofits in five years or less. Currently, H.I.S. House has yearly energy costs of $10,364. As a result of the complete energy retrofit, estimated savings are $8,950 – an 86 percent annual reduction in energy costs.

Upgrades at the shelter include: replacing both HVAC systems, light replacements with new energy efficient fluorescents, attic insulation, Energy Star Roofing and Solar and Thermal Panel Systems and the addition of Energy Star appliances. Retrofitting H.I.S. House with green, energy efficient upgrades will enable the shelter to reduce operating costs for energy, lowering monthly expenses for electricity, gas, and water resulting in increased comfort and efficiencies and an overall reduction in the structure’s environmental impact. Echo® solar system that delivers twice the energy of a basic solar electric photovoltaic (PV) system by supplementing conventional solar panels with a unique solar thermal technology that captures the heat from the PV panels. Echo systems generate not only electricity, but also hot water for washing and bathing. This Echo system will generate 90 percent of the heated water and 10 percent of the H.I.S. building’s total electricity.

Originally a three-bedroom, two-bath farmhouse, H.I.S. House has undergone two major expansions. It now consists of 13 guest rooms, five restrooms, a library, two kitchens, two family rooms, a living room and resident manager quarters. Each family lives in a private guest room, while singles share a room with another single. During the four- to six-month residency program, adults secure employment and save money for permanent housing.

One of the nation’s largest providers of housing for the homeless, HomeAid America has now completed more than 275 shelters for the homeless in 15 states and the District of Columbia. Costing more than $178 million, one half of which has been donated by the builders, trade contractors, and suppliers of America’s building industry, HomeAid’s facilities have now housed more than 145,000 homeless people seeking to rebuild their lives.

The success of HomeAid’s Environmental Sustainability Program will provide guidance to thousands of multi-unit group residential facilities across the country on how to retrofit their own facilities to achieve greater programmatic efficiencies. HomeAid plans to publish the results of the program online in a format that can assist service providers in their own retrofitting efforts. By providing specific retrofitting information, both in terms of systems and improvements installed and the costs thereof, HomeAid’s ESP will serve as a template to other non-profits seeking to enhance their service capacities.

About HomeAid Orange County
HomeAid Orange County is the founding chapter of a national non-profit organization with the mission to build and maintain dignified housing where homeless families and individuals can rebuild their lives. Founded in1989 by the Orange County Chapter of the Building Industry Association of Southern California, HomeAid acts as the housing developer and liaison between service providers, community volunteers, builders and specialty contractors. To date the organization has completed 48 housing developments that serve victims of domestic violence, pregnant homeless women, abused and abandoned children, homeless adults living with HIV/AIDS and homeless families.
Contact Information
Children and Families Commission of Orange County
Kathleen Freed

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