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Renewable power energizes new concept in veteran care

Solar electric system helps skilled nursing facility save energy and reduce utility costs

LEBANON, Ore. — September 3, 2014— A new healthcare complex developed for the skilled nursing care of military veterans is designed to improve resident health and comfort, and save energy.

The 133,000-square-foot Edward C. Allworth Veterans Home, located in Lebanon, Ore., features a 336-panel rooftop solar electric system as well as energy-efficient lighting, heating and cooling systems and kitchen appliances. Energy Trust of Oregon provided $114,109 in cash incentives toward the energy-saving investments.

Set to welcome residents in fall 2014, the 154-bed Allworth Veterans Home will offer the amenities of a skilled nursing facility in 11 buildings that emphasize independence and community in a home-like environment. The 12-acre campus includes four neighborhood clusters of residential buildings, connected by a spine of shared program space, kitchen facilities and a community center.

Design, development and construction of the new facility are under the supervision of the Oregon Department of Veteran’s Affairs, ODVA, with funding from local and federal sources. The Allworth Veterans Home is designed to meet the standards of the State Energy Efficiency Design, SEED, program, which directs state agencies to include cost-effective energy conservation measures in new and renovated public buildings. The SEED program also requires public buildings to spend 1.5 percent of the construction budget on green energy technology. Allworth Veterans Home is served by Pacific Power and NW Natural.

Early in the facility’s conception, ODVA connected with Energy Trust to explore how best to incorporate renewable power and energy efficiency in the facility’s design. “From the beginning, we were intent on including a solar electric system in our plans,” said John Osborn, facilities and construction manager, ODVA. “Our agency is moving toward providing more sustainable facilities so incorporating energy-efficiency features throughout was also a top priority.”

The solar installation is the centerpiece of the property’s energy strategy. With guidance from Energy Trust trade ally contractor Sunlight Solar Energy, Inc. of Bend, Ore., ODVA opted for a roof-mounted system to take full advantage of building angles and solar exposure. With 336 solar panels spread across eight residential buildings on the campus, the 85.7-kilowatt solar electric system is estimated to generate 93,000 kilowatt hours, kWh, of energy annually.

A kiosk in the community center will show in real time how much electricity the solar panels produce. Osborn hopes to use the kiosk as an educational tool for staff and families, as well as to help students from the neighboring elementary school understand more about renewable energy and how it works.

Energy use in a facility this size will be significant, according to Osborn. While the electricity generated by the solar panels at the Allworth Veterans Home will help offset the energy costs, ODVA invested in several other energy-efficiency strategies that are projected to save more than 32,000 kWh of electricity and 48,000 therms of natural gas annually.

The HVAC system includes a heat recovery component, allowing the facility to capture and use heat from one area and replace it in another. A high-performance building envelope and high-performance windows prevent energy leaks, while the commercial kitchen features energy-efficient appliances to control energy use in the freezer and refrigerated areas. Lighting is another essential component of the campus design. The design team made it a priority to find as many efficiencies as possible in lighting the facility both inside and out, without sacrificing the quality of light for residents.

“It is important to our team to design a beautiful community that offers high-quality care in a comfortable environment to honor the service and sacrifice of the veterans we’ll be serving,” observed Osborn. “The energy-efficiency measures are a critical part of the project to reduce our consumption and save on utility costs. Residents may not see any difference, but the funds we save can be spent in other ways that benefit their care.”

Energy Trust of Oregon is an independent nonprofit organization dedicated to helping utility customers benefit from saving energy and generating renewable power. Our services, cash incentives and energy solutions have helped participating customers of Portland General Electric, Pacific Power, NW Natural and Cascade Natural Gas save $1.7 billion on energy bills. Our work helps keep energy costs as low as possible, creates jobs and builds a sustainable energy future. Learn more at or call 1.866.368.7878.

Sunlight Solar Energy Inc. is a 25-year-old company specializing in the installation of residential and commercial solar panel systems headquartered in Bend, Ore. The company is dedicated to educating their customers and empowering them to make intelligent buying decisions. We are currently offering special finance options for homeowners and builders interested in building solar ready. For existing residential structures we are currently offering a zero money down option. For more information regarding Sunlight Solar Energy Inc. and more details regarding our solar incentives visit their website at or call us at 541.322.1910.

Category: Renewable Energy