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Sustainable Development Update
October 20, 2017

Sustainable Development Focus

California allocates $55M for energy storage in low-income neighborhoods

Utility Dive - Oct 17 The California Public Utilities Commission has instituted a program that directs about $55 million through 2020 for energy storage projects for “low-income households and environmentally burdened communities” in the state. The program allocates 25 percent of the funds from the state’s Self Generation Incentive Program that provides incentives to support existing, new, and emerging distributed energy resources, predominantly energy storage projects. The program is the result of AB 1550, which the legislature passed last year. It aims to provide economic equity in the administration of California’s greenhouse gas emission reduction programs.

Meritage Homes expands to net-zero energy

Builder Magazine - Oct 12 Meritage Homes has identified an infill site in Irvine to apply its knowledge of zero-energy building practices to attached housing. The project, which breaks ground next spring, will eventually be one of the state’s first examples of net-zero multifamily housing, with 44 three-story townhomes ranging from 1,600 to 2,200 square feet each. The project design encompasses eight blocks of for-sale triplexes and duplexes. Through a partnership with Southern California Edison and the Electric Power Research Institute, Meritage seeks to foster best practices in net-zero energy for multifamily development. 

Mandalay to build 3,000 Arizona homes with solar and Sonnen batteries

Reuters - Oct 12 German battery maker Sonnen GmbH will partner with Mandalay Homes to outfit 3,000 new Prescott, Arizona homes with batteries to store the excess energy generated by their rooftop solar installations. The companies want utilities to pay the homeowners to use the stored power in the 3,000 batteries, which would create a virtual power plant with 8 megawatt hours of electricity, enough to power about 5,000 average homes for a day. Even if utilities do not buy the power, homeowners would save money by not having to buy as much or any power from the grid, said Sonnen Senior Vice President Blake Richetta. For now however, the project is moving forward without buy-in from utilities. The community would be the first of its kind in the United States, the companies said.

Fannie Mae closes 500th green multifamily financing deal of 2017

Proud Green Building - Oct 11 Fannie Mae has closed its 500th green financing transaction of 2017, a portfolio of 10 multifamily properties, demonstrating the broad market adoption of Fannie Mae's green finance program. As of the second quarter of 2017, since its inception, Fannie Mae's Green Financing business is projected to save enough energy to power 31 million cell phones and save the equivalent of 15.6 billion glasses of water annually. Fannie Mae green loans are secured by multifamily properties that either are targeting a 20 percent or greater in energy or water consumption or have been awarded a green building certification, such as LEED or ENERGY STAR. 

Self-driving cars could ease traffic, but increase sprawl

San Francisco Chronicle - Oct 16 A new study inspired by Boston's early experiments with self-driving cars finds that the technology could ease congestion, but might also encourage urban sprawl. The report, released Tuesday by the Boston Consulting Group and the World Economic Forum, included a computer simulation of how downtown Boston traffic would change with the advent of self-driving taxis, buses, or private cars. Vehicles would likely travel for longer distances, but there would be fewer of them on the road; simulated autonomy also reduced traffic time and cut pollution because of smoother driving patterns, such as steadier speeds and more gradual braking. At the same time, the efficiency and convenience of autonomous technology could encourage more people to live in the suburbs. Another study published this month by University of California, Davis researchers found users of ride-hailing services such as Uber and Lyft are less likely to use public transit. The Davis study says that the trend away from public transit could have broader implications once autonomous vehicle technology becomes commercially viable and a feature of ride-hailing apps.

Affordable apartments planned for South LA would use new transit-oriented incentives

Curbed - Oct 11 A new apartment complex planned for Florence may be the first project to take advantage of new incentives meant to spur development of affordable housing in transit-rich areas. Plans filed with the city Tuesday call for the demolition of an existing auto shop to make way for a building with 51 units of housing. With the exception of a manager’s unit, each of the apartments would be reserved for extremely low-income tenants. In return for the affordable units, the project’s developer has applied for incentives that would allow it to rise an additional 11 feet and include less open space and a shorter setback than normally required. These allowances are available through new transit-oriented development guidelines created through Measure JJJ, which Los Angeles voters approved in November.

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