Across the Wards | Bringing solar energy to residents at the Paradise at Parkside

Paradise at Parkside is an apartment complex in Washington D.C.'s Ward 7.
Paradise at Parkside is an apartment complex in Washington D.C.'s Ward 7.

Nicole Abrate Echezarreta

Related Topics:
Climate, Storyfest 2024, Sustainability

By Nicole Abrate Echezarreta & Carly Silverman

Paradise at Parkside, an apartment complex nestled in the heart of Washington, D.C.’s Ward 7, has joined the city’s Department of Energy and Environment (DOEE) in their Solar For All program, working to become more sustainable and offer lower-cost energy to residents. 

The collaboration between Paradise at Parkside and the DOEE’s DC Sustainable Energy Utility (DCSEU) department began in 2012, marked by the installation of compact fluorescent lighting, faucet aerators, and low-flow shower heads. These initial steps toward energy efficiency and conserving water set the stage for more ambitious initiatives and improvements in the years to come. 

In 2020 and 2021, Paradise at Parkside achieved a significant milestone by installing 24 Community Renewable Energy Facilities (CREFs), or large-scale solar panels, with the DCSEU, spanning 15 buildings in Ward 7. This collaboration, part of the Department of Energy & Environment Solar for All Community Solar program, brought solar energy access to approximately 514 income-qualified households across the District. Notably, 99 households within the Paradise at Parkside complex benefited directly, promising reduced energy bills over the next 15 years.

CREFs, or large-scale solar panels on one of the building at Paradise at Parkside. (Nicole Abrate Echezarreta)

At the initiative’s core lies a state-of-the-art 1,799.84 kilowatt CREF. This facility harnesses the abundant energy of the sun and is a critical response to the pressing need for accessible and affordable green energy solutions in the community. 

By significantly reducing energy bills and carbon footprints, Paradise at Parkside is enhancing the quality of life for its residents, while setting a remarkable precedent for sustainable urban living nationwide. 

(Nicole Abrate Echezarreta)

Trevon, who preferred to go by his first name for this story, is a lifelong resident of Paradise at Parkside and spoke to the tangible benefits of this initiative. He said, “My utility bills are lower than they have ever been before, and I am grateful for that.” This sentiment reflects the transformative impact of the CREF on the lives of the community’s residents. Lower energy costs translate into increased financial stability and a higher quality of life for individuals and families. 

The commitment to energy efficiency and electrification took a giant leap in 2021 when Paradise at Parkside embarked on extensive HVAC enhancements and electrification upgrades. The goal was to replace Magic Packs, the all-in-one gas heating and electric cooling system, with energy-efficient electric heat pumps. 

With the support of programs like the Income Qualified Energy Fund and the Affordable Housing Retrofit Accelerator, the DCSEU was able to contract the installation of heat pumps into 343 units. 

(Nicole Abrate Echezarreta)

Residents of Paradise at Parkside have experienced tangible benefits from these energy-efficient upgrades. Chandra Williams, a long-term resident, rejoices in significantly reduced utility bills and improved air quality. Tyketa Barnett, a resident since 2015, shares her enhanced comfort experience, highlighting a more consistent utility bill and improved energy efficiency in her home. 

Fred Killian, Regional Property Manager of the CT Group, the group that manages this property, emphasized the dual benefits of the project.“We’re providing better, less expensive heating and cooling for the residents, but also replacing units completely and cutting down our repair costs and replacement costs,” Killian said. 

Killian expressed gratitude for the pivotal role played by the DCSEU, stating, “DCSEU being able to step in with technical assistance and incentives over the years has been super helpful.” 

The collaborative efforts and upgrades made by Paradise at Parkside stand as a testament to the positive impact of collective energy efficiency, electrification, and renewable energy initiatives. This transformative journey not only benefits the residents but also reflects a commitment to sustainable practices in affordable housing management. 

Keisha, who has been a resident of Paradise at Parkside for the past 17 years, may not have personally qualified for the Solar for All program, but she attests to the positive change it has brought to the community. She believes that the adoption of solar energy has made Paradise at Parkside a better place to live. Her perspective underlines how sustainability initiatives can have a far-reaching positive influence on a community, even for those who may not directly benefit from them.

(Nicole Abrate Echezarreta)

To qualify for this program, residents must meet specific household income limits set by the Department of Energy & Environment and receive benefits from a federal program. Detailed information about eligibility criteria can be found on the DOEE’s Solar for All page. Individual residents can also apply to be considered for this program through an online application. 

The integration of a Community Renewable Energy Facility and participation in the Solar for All program mark significant milestones in Paradise at Parkside’s journey toward sustainability. These initiatives not only lower energy costs for residents but also set a powerful example for urban developments nationwide. As the complex continues to invest in innovative technologies like heat pumps, it paves the way for a more sustainable and environmentally conscious future.


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