First Habitat organization to use AIA grant for solar energy.
WARRENTON, VA — Fauquier Habitat for Humanity has just installed solar panels on one of its new homes in Warrenton. The home (152 Haiti St.) will be occupied by its new owner in April and will provide the homeowner savings on electric bills and help to establish a national model for Habitat homes. This home is the first home to have solar installed under a $500K grant carbon offset donation awarded by the American Institute of Architects to Habitat for Humanity Virginia. The grant will help to launch a two-year project to install solar energy systems on up to 80 Habitat homes in Washington, D.C., and Virginia. GiveSolar, a nonprofit organization, is partnering with Habitat Virginia to implement the two-year project.
In an effort to help with some funding of the installation, local high school student James Jackson set up a GoFundMe page and raised $2,000 toward the cost of the installation. Jackson is a senior at Flint Hill School in Oakton, Virginia, and helped with the installation along with some of his fellow students. He is also the grandson of Charles Wurster, founding member of the Environmental Defense Fund.
“We are so excited to be able to include solar energy technology in our Habitat housing,” said Melanie Burch, interim CEO for Fauquier Habitat for Humanity. “Not only are our homes built of top-quality materials and cutting-edge technology, this adds energy environmental sustainability that has not been available to us in the past.” The solar system will save the homeowner $65 to $75 per month in utility costs. Over 25 years, we expect homeowners to save up to $27,000 as the price of electricity rises over time.
The solar system will not only enhance affordability of homeownership, it will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and protect homeowners from the rising cost of electricity. It will also help to contribute to the generational wealth of low-income households.
Fauquier Habitat for Humanity has now built 61 homes and is working on three additional this year. The nonprofit makes homes available to qualified families who pay for the homes at a subsidized rate. Homeowners must pass stringent qualification requirements and have a qualifying salary. Families served by Fauquier Habitat for Humanity earn less than 80% of Area Median Income. Most earn 30-60% of AMI.
“Our goal is to provide a step up to homeownership for those willing to meet our requirements,” explained Burch. “Many Habitat homeowners go on to purchase their own market rate homes after living in one of our homes and achieving savings and financial stability.”
Through a newly created land trust, the Virginia Statewide Community Land Trust, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, Fauquier Habitat for Humanity is now able to also ensure that its homes remain affordable after sale by their initial owner. “Being able to ensure our homes remain accessible to those in need of affordable housing and now being able to add solar to our homes provides the homes with built-in savings that will be able to pass from one homeowner to the next,” Burch added.
For more information on Fauquier Habitat for Humanity, visit FauquierHabitat.org.
Photos courtesy of Fauquier Habitat for Humanity and Bendure Communications.
Posted on: March 7, 2023