Going Off the Grid: Urban Land Conservancy Invests in Clean Energy at a Large Scale for its Nonprofit Partners

Upgrades will lead to big savings in dollars as well as carbon emissions!

Aurora, Colorado, Oct. 28, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- During this time of change and uncertainty, nonprofits, already stretched thin, are tasked with doing more with less. Sustainability is the buzzword. It's tied to delivering optimum services over time using minimal dollars. Sustainability is also a goal related to utilizing energy sources that do not harm the environment. To meet both goals, Urban Land Conservancy (ULC), a nonprofit that uses affordable real estate to help create equitable communities throughout Metro Denver, took an ambitious approach to updating the heating, cooling, and energy systems on its Oxford Vista campus. Located in Aurora, Colorado, the campus is the current home to AmeriCorps Southwest Regional Headquarters and other nonprofits.

ULC received the donation of the 31-acre campus in 2018. While the grounds were abundant with lush greenery and sprawling views, the 1960s-era buildings were outdated, inefficient, and in poor condition. After investigating several options, including replacing all existing energy systems with like models, ULC chose to partner with EnergyLink, a design and engineering procurement firm dedicated to energy sustainability. Together, ULC and Energy Link design-built the energy redevelopment on the campus.

What's most exciting is the fact that the Oxford Vista campus combines efficient systems in innovative ways to maximize both an environmental and economic benefit. By integrating on-site generation into building control systems, which control HVAC systems, the facilities can reduce peak electric demand that ordinarily occurs as a result of uncontrolled cooling loads being triggered simultaneously during the heat of the day. Additionally, by monitoring solar production and building loads in real-time, the building controls autonomously juggle cooling loads to limit the instantaneous peak demand. This yields considerably larger economic benefits to the tenants at Oxford Vista than the efficiency of generation measures alone.

The integration of these systems translates to:                   

  • An 81% reduction in electrical use;
  • A 29% reduction in natural gas use;
  • And a 46% overall energy reduction.

In other words, because of this investment, we save 780,800 kWh of total energy per year. This equates to savings of:

  • Over $20,000 in gas costs;
  • $15,000 on system maintenance and repairs;
  • And over $40,000 in electrical costs annually!

Sustainable and cutting-edge technological improvements at the project include a ground-source geothermal heat pump system and a photovoltaic solar array, lighting retrofit to upgrade the campus to LED technology, installation of a fully integrated building automation system (BAS), and a partial roof and window replacement.

These upgrades will reduce the stress placed on the local electric grid, minimize the need for additional peak power electrical generation plants, and contribute to Oxford Vista tenants' overall stability and success. This work will most notably benefit the hundreds of AmeriCorps' Southwest Region Headquarters' members and staff on the campus and ensure the campus remains a community benefit for years to come. They will also ensure ULC's Assets and Sustainably Team can dedicate resources and time to upgrade additional properties with sustainable energy and increase our overall impact in the Metro Denver region.

This project is made possible with the low-interest loan from Northern Trust Colorado and a generous donation of $250,000 from an anonymous contributor.

To take a virtual tour of the energy upgrades, visit https://vimeo.com/457918235. For more information about sustainable energy at Oxford Vista, contact ULC at admin@urbanlandc.org.


About Urban Land Conservancy

ULC is committed to preserving, developing, stewarding, and managing permanently affordable housing and shared office space for nonprofits and mission-minded organizations in Metro Denver and surrounding communities. For more information, visit www.urbanlandc.org


The amount of energy ULC saves will translate directly into: A view of the Oxford Vista solar field with a backdrop of the Colorado mountain range.

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