MDHA reaches sustainable energy milestone

Photo of solar panels atop Parthenon Towers

Solar panels atop the Parthenon Towers
photo: MDHA

The Metropolitan Development and Housing Agency (MDHA) has announced it produced more than 11 million kilowatt hours (kWh) of renewable energy since it began the installation of solar panels on three high rise buildings in 2010. The installations on the three buildings (Parthenon Towers, Edgefield Manor and Madison Towers) were part of the agency’s comprehensive strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and lower utility costs for both MDHA and its residents by reducing energy consumption. The energy produced by the solar installations represents a carbon reduction of more than 345 metric tons since its installation, equivalent to the removal of more than 60 cars from the road. With the milestone, MDHA has become one of the top ten renewable energy producers in Davidson County.

“MDHA has embraced sustainability and energy efficient technologies to save money, but also, to do our part to address climate change as well,” said Phil Ryan, executive director, MDHA. “By reducing the amount of carbon we pour into our atmosphere, we can reduce our impact on the environment for generations to come.”

In 2010, MDHA installed more than 700 solar panels manufactured by Memphis, Tennessee-based Sharp Electronics Corp. The hardware framing the solar panels is designed to be upgradable, so that as solar panels become more efficient in energy production in the future, they can accommodate improved technology. During their brief lifetime, the panels have generated enough electricity to power all of the neon signage on Lower Broadway for a year. The generated electricity is sold back to the Nashville Electric Service and used to meet power demand for the entire community. It is estimated that MDHA’s solar panels could reduce atmospheric emission of carbon dioxide by 143 million pounds and sulphur dioxide by more than one million pounds during the first 12 years of operation.

Solar panels aren’t the only improvement MDHA has made to reduce its energy consumption. Renovations of the three high rise buildings have included the installation of variable refrigerant volume (VRV) heating, ventilation and air conditioning controls in residential units allowing for better monitoring and control of energy consumption and eliminating the need for residents to use old-fashioned window air conditioners. MDHA has also installed geothermal HVAC systems in more than 130 public housing units across the city, as well as high efficiency appliances, low-water use fixtures and employed compact fluorescent lighting throughout these and other MDHA-owned properties. In all, MDHA has reduced water consumption by more than 174 million gallons.

“I’m proud of the fact that MDHA is looking closely at the most efficient way of delivering services to our residents,” said Ralph Mosley, MDHA board chair. “Residents have told us their utility bills are lower and for people living on fixed incomes or on disability payments, every step we take to reduce energy consumption leads to cost savings for our customers and our agency.”

MDHA’s announcement comes in the wake of the Metro Council’s adoption of RS2012-478, which supports the reduction of greenhouse gases and urges Congress and the President to fully enforce the Clean Air Act.