Environmental Protection

The Cambrian Center

ARRA Funds Green Retrofit for HUD Facility

Salas O'Brien will engineer a cool roof and use fuel cells to save energy at the Cambrian Center near the Los Gatos-San Jose border.

Cambrian Center, a senior and disabled adult HUD housing facility, broke ground recently on a $1.2 million clean energy and building efficiency retrofit engineered by San Jose-based Salas O’Brien Engineers, Inc.

The funds were appropriated from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009, to improve the energy efficiency of federally funded facilities, help stimulate the economy by creating new jobs and saving existing ones, while investing in long-term economic growth.

The groundbreaking highlighted the Cambrian Center’s clean energy, sustainability and energy efficiency improvements, and mark the beginning of residents’ adopting more environmentally sustainable practices. This green building retrofit will contain four ClearEdge Power 5kW fuel cells, a re-engineered “cool roof,” energy efficient windows and sliding glass doors, and energy efficient refrigerators in 24 of the units. Salas O’Brien Managing Principal John Salas said, “The Cambrian Center retrofit represents another opportunity for us to significantly improve an existing building with an aged infrastructure and make it both “green” and more comfortable for its residents.”

In addition to the building efficiency improvements and energy efficient fixtures, the project will create about 40 clean-tech, construction and service-related jobs for approximately six months.

“The Cambrian Center retrofit will create green construction jobs while at the same time reducing long term energy usage and greenhouse emissions,” noted Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-San Jose). “Investments in reducing energy consumption, like the ones being made at the Center, are not only good for our environment, they will also be good for the Center’s bottom-line down the road. These investments are about making our country stronger, cleaner, and more energy independent, and I’m glad to have helped the Cambrian Center be part of this.”

The other major component of the retrofit is a first of its kind program that will help seniors and residents of the center learn how to lead more environmentally sustainable lives. The center will provide each resident a practical handbook with tips on decreasing energy usage, reducing one’s carbon footprint, and smart ways to recycle in the home. A Resident Sustainability Representative will help coordinate “green learning” activities that will teach seniors how to make wise energy decisions. Cambrian Center Executive Director Ron Anderson said, “Not only will our building become more energy efficient and reduce energy usage, but our residents will be given the tools to actively participate in the “green economy.”

Designed and engineered by Salas O’Brien and constructed by SOBe Construction, Inc., the project consists of the latest energy conservation measures and energy efficient solutions. The ClearEdge Power fuel cells, as part of the total energy efficient solution, will supply the building with approximately 20 percent of its total energy needs and as much as 50 percent of the domestic hot water needs of the residents.

Established in 1981 as a not-for-profit, Cambrian Center provides affordable apartment living for seniors and disabled adults in a quiet, residential neighborhood. It includes 11 studio and 139 one-bedroom apartments, subsidized under HUD Section 8. Residents pay rent based on their income.

Source: Salas O'Brien Engineers

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