When the Amelia Court at Creative Village opened in July 2019, the occasion marked not only a milestone in the redevelopment of downtown Orlando’s historically disadvantaged west side but also in an OUC program that incentivizes efficiency in multifamily housing.
The first building to be completed in the 68-acre Creative Village “innovation district,” Amelia Court melds upscale living and affordability. Of its 256 units, 177 were set aside for tenants who make below the area’s median annual household income, according to the developer, Atlantic Housing Partners of Winter Park.
But regardless of income, all renters live in energy-efficient apartments that save each unit, on average, $200 to $300 a year on utility costs. That’s because Amelia Court ownership decided against installing standard water heaters and air-conditioning systems and instead upgraded to more expensive Energy Star® 50-gallon hybrid water heaters (inset photo) and 15 to 16 SEER (seasonal energy efficiency ratio) heat pump air-conditioning units. Plus, it had cool/reflective roofing installed atop Amelia Court’s two towers as another measure of efficiency. The white roof covering reflects – not absorbs like black roofs — ultraviolet rays, reducing heat gain. Also on the roofs, rows of photovoltaic panels provide solar energy to common areas in the complex.
The three primary efficiency upgrades ― hybrid water heaters, heat pump A/C units and roofing — netted rebates totaling $187,795, a record for OUC’s Multifamily Efficiency Program (MFEP) and one of the highest amounts among all 16 OUC rebate programs.
Each hybrid water heater received a $500 rebate, totaling $128,000. The hybrid technology pulls the warm air around the water tank while using electricity sparingly to heat the water in it. Rebates for the heat pump air conditioners and reflective roofing came to $56,120 and $3,675, respectively.
“This was the largest combined rebate project for our department over the past 10 years,” said David Mayer, OUC’s Supervisor of Sustainability, “and it’s the only multifamily community that I’m aware of that has installed hybrid water heaters. That’s what so unique about this place.”
Scott Culp, a Principal in WPGC Construction and Atlantic Housing Partners, said, “As owners of a portfolio of affordable housing communities, all savings in construction costs and savings in annual utility cost contribute to the affordability of our apartment homes.”
Culp added that Amelia Court’s property management staff points out energy efficient features to prospective tenants.
Senior Conservation Support Specialist Andres Burgos, who helped guide WPGC through the rebate program, estimated the entire Amelia Court complex would save 634,850 kilowatt hours (kWh) of annual electric usage because of the efficiency upgrades. “That could mean an annual savings of 2,840 kWh per unit based on typical behavior,” he said.
Moreover, less energy consumption results in reduced carbon emissions related to energy generation.
“Amelia Court was a great project to work on,” said Burgos. “Its ownership was motivated to increase the energy efficiency of the apartments, making them more sustainable, and lower the utility costs of its tenants. We’d like to see more projects like this.”
Since 2014, more than 3,500 rental units have benefited from the Multifamily Efficiency Program. Conservation initiatives like this cost OUC more than $2 million a year and save customers a total of $6.2 million-plus annually.
Interested in OUC’s Multifamily Efficiency Program? Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 407-434-2256. Download more information on the program here.