Granby solar senior homes get energy upgrade
June 28, 2011
GRANBY – The defunct 30-year-old solar heating system at the Grand Living Senior Homes in Granby is getting a major upgrade from American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds through the Colorado Governor’s Energy Office.
“We’re all pretty excited,” said Liz McIntyre, community energy coordinator for the Grand County area. McIntyre has been working with the Grand County Business Economic Development Association, or BEDA, to attract energy dollars to the community since 2009. The senior homes in Granby are a major installment of those funds in Grand County.
The Governor’s Energy Office supplied $91,000 of federal pass-through dollars, and the local Sprout Foundation granted another $80,000 for the project. The Grand County Housing Authority is putting in about $13,000 or more to make the crawl space and attic at the facility more energy efficient by adding a barrier and insulation.
Residents of the 24-unit senior housing facility pay according to income with subsidies from the USDA Rural Development.
Because the boiler at the facility was outdated and lacked efficiency, project leaders, through the help of a Governor’s Energy Office consultant, opted to replace it for the buildings’ heat supply. Meanwhile, the old solar heating system is planned to be replaced with new technology in solar domestic hot water systems.
The new solar technology will be smaller in each of the buildings, McIntyre said, with new panels, pumps, controllers and storage. The solar portion of the project should provide 80 to 100 percent of the energy needed to heat water in buildings, she said.
From the two new smart boilers being installed at the senior housing property, a 30 to 55 percent savings in gas is expected.
In addition to these functions, with help from the weatherization program through Energy Outreach of Colorado, the overall project includes ventilation duct work, upgrades to lighting to make it more energy efficient, installment of low-flow showerheads and improvements to fan coil units to make air cleaner for residents.
Installations and construction work on the project is slated to start this month. Through a competitive bidding process with no local preference policy due to the use of ARRA money, McIntyre said, Custom Solar of Boulder was selected and About Plumbing and Heating of Silverthorne.
Both companies “had the best response,” McIntyre said, adding “It was disappointing it wasn’t a local firm. There are certainly competent contractors up here who install solar hot water systems.”
Tonya Bina can be reached at 970-887-3334 ext.19603