Berkeley Student Cooperative Leverages Utilities Savings to Win Federal Stimulus Funds

by Jan Stokley, Executive Director
Berkeley, CA May 25, 2011 – The City of Berkeley awarded the Berkeley Student Cooperative a total of $41,655 in Money for Energy Efficiency (ME2) grants funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The largest student-run housing organization in the nation, the BSC provides affordable housing to nearly 1300 students in twenty different properties near the UC Berkeley campus.
The City of Berkeley awarded two ME2 grants to the BSC – a $23,780 grant for Davis House on Bancroft Way and a $17,875 grant for Oscar Wilde House on Warring St. The City of Berkeley had over $275,000 available in ARRA funds for commercial and multifamily properties and awarded a total of 13 grants. The ME2 grants are conditioned on federal requirements, and will help to overcome cost barriers for many non-profits, small businesses, and multifamily property owners, according to Alice La Pierre of the City of Berkeley’s Office of Energy & Sustainable Development.
The ability to match the ME2 grants at 100% made the BSC’s applications competitive. The BSC’s matching funds came from PG&E rebates under the California Alternative Rate for Energy (CARE) program for low-income residents. “We decided to use the CARE rebates to invest in projects that created even more cost efficiencies for the Co-op and helped us meet sustainability goals,” said Arash Taheri Lotfi, BSC Vice President of Capital Affairs.
Besides cost leveraging, the City of Berkeley considered other criteria including projected reduction of energy consumption and the applicant’s commitment to social priorities such as affordable housing.
The BSC will use the ME2 funds to replace the heating systems in Davis House and Oscar Wilde with high efficiency furnaces.
City Councilmember Gordon Wozniak acted as “cheerleader” throughout the application process and congratulated the BSC: “My kudos to the students who stepped up and made this happen, especially BSC Sustainability Coordinators Serena Parr, Brad Zamft, Emma Oppen and Ian Quirk. The BSC is a Berkeley institution that provides an important service to students. It should be commended for being a leader and model for the City’s Climate Action Plan.”