Vancouver Housing Authority welcomes energy efficiency, making homes more affordable


Vancouver Housing Authority

The staff at Vancouver Housing Authority (VHA) work to deliver on their mission: providing housing opportunities to nearly 7,000 Southwest Washington residents facing barriers due to income or ability. In partnership with Energy Trust of Oregon and NW Natural, VHA is making energy-efficient upgrades that are helping them more effectively serve the community.

VHA manages the natural gas bills for hot water at most of their multi-level properties. “Providing our residents with a consistent and comfortable living environment is always our goal,” said Leah Greenwood, VHA’s director of property and asset management. “Tenants pay rent based on their income so anything we can do to decrease operating costs helps us make our units more affordable.”

In 2018, upgrades to Esther Short Commons, one of their mixed-use, mixed-income residences, marked the first time that VHA connected with Energy Trust. The property includes 152 residential units and when one of the facility’s water heaters became unreliable, VHA didn’t want to leave any of their residents without access to hot water. VHA worked with Energy Trust to assess new, high-performing natural gas water heaters that reduce energy use and costs. VHA eventually purchased two water heaters, ensuring that they would have a backup if one ever needed maintenance.

“Now we have something that’s a lot easier to maintain and costs much less to operate,” said Jim Davis, VHA’s project manager. “Providing our residents with hot water is really important to us.”

VHA received a $5,000 cash incentive from Energy Trust for the water heater upgrades at Esther Short Commons and are saving an estimated $3,500 in annual natural gas utility bills.

More recently, VHA received a $1,300 incentive, with an estimated $1,000 in annual energy savings, for installing natural gas water heaters in 2019 at their brand new Caples Terrace facility, which serves youths who are experiencing homelessness or aging out of foster care.  Forest Ridge Apartments are in the process of being remodeled and currently exploring water heater improvements. VHA is well on the road to a more energy-efficient future.

To find out more about cash incentives for Multifamily buildings in Southwest Washington, visit: www.energytrust.org/incentives/multifamily-washington.