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Richmond's largest landlord, the Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority (RRHA), a landlord with a housing inventory of 4,100 housing units, is saving nearly $65,000 a month on its water bills, only part of a comprehensive effort to install water- and energy-saving devices in its housing. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has called the RRHA program a "successful and historic venture." Saving money, water and energy, the program is exceeding expectations and getting positive marks from RRHA residents as well.
The RRHA program began in October 1999 when RRHA entered an energy performance contract with Citizens Conservation Services (CCS), of Framingham, Massachusetts, an energy services contractor. Under the contract, RRHA borrows $6 million over a period of 12 years to improve water and energy efficiency in its housing inventory. CCS monitors RRHA's water and energy savings throughout the contract period and guarantees a certain level of energy savings.
What energy-saving measures are, according to the latest CCS estimates, saving water and saving RRHA approximately $65,000 a month? From August 2000 through the end of 2001, RRHA installed 3,350 new water-saving 1.6 gallon commodes and 6,700 faucet aerators and 3,350 shower heads in communities for families and housing for the elderly. Surveys also reveal that residents regard the water-saving devices as favorable.
According to RRHA HVAC Engineer Joe Sarver, who is coordinating the authority's energy-conservation efforts, even before installation of the water-saving devices was complete, data suggested that the fiscal savings produced by the devices may pay for all mechanical improvements called for by the CCS contract.
"The data suggested that approximately 58 percent of RRHA's energy savings would come from water conservation. Water is the driving force behind the bulk of the savings," said Sarver.
Besides water-saving devices that are yielding significant savings and conserving resources, the RRHA-CCS contract has led to several other improvements at the authority:
RRHA is installing energy-efficient lighting at its administrative facilities, family housing communities and housing communities for the elderly. In all, 7,000 lighting fixtures are planned for change.
Additionally, RRHA is going to purchase fluorescent replacement lamps and supply them to residents at no charge. Although florescent lamps are more expensive than conventional incandescent lamps, the Fluorescent lamps offer a significantly longer life span and for similar light output, yet use a fraction of the energy.
RRHA replaced the refrigerators in housing units for the elderly with super-efficiency refrigerators. Compact in size, they save energy and space. 547 14.4 cu. ft. high-efficiency refrigerators were installed that produces a 20 percent reduction in electrical consumption.
At four of RRHA's residences for the elderly, old inefficient, electric boilers are being replaced with high-efficiency natural gas boilers. Boiler rooms have been completely renovated utilizing new Hydropulse heating boilers. Even though the cost of gas has risen, per BTU gas continues to be a highly efficient and economical energy resource.
RRHA has made heating/HVAC improvements to family communities, improvements to lighting in common areas in RRHA communities and improvements to meters. Improvements at Mosby Court were completed in December. Hillside Court improvements will be complete by summer 2002, and the Dove community is currently being designed for advertisement to bid in early winter 2002.
Currently, RRHA is the only housing authority in Virginia that has entered into an energy performance contract and implemented the contract.
The Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority (RRHA) is the largest housing authority in the commonwealth of Virginia. RRHA serves more than 12,000 residents, manages nearly 4,100 units and through its Housing Choice Voucher Program provides subsidized housing in approximately 2,100 units. RRHA also manages neighborhood redevelopment and conservation programs throughout the city of Richmond. RRHA has approximately 350 employees.