San Francisco Senior Affordable Housing Facility Goes Green, Installs Solar Water Heating System

SunWater Solar and the Chinatown Community Development Center (CDC) completed the installation of a new solar water-heating system at an affordable housing development in San Francisco, Calif.

Home to 90 seniors, the Larkin Pine Senior Housing system’s collectors will meet up to 70% of the building’s hot water load and offset approximately 3,700 therms of natural gas annually, equivalent to removing 3.6 passenger vehicles from the road for a year.

Designed and installed by SunWater Solar, the system garnered a $42,627 California Solar Initiative-Thermal (CSI-Thermal) rebate that covers a sizable portion of the system cost. The collector area is 1,160 square feet, making the system one of the largest yet installed on a multifamily building in San Francisco under the CSI-Thermal program.


“After carefully reviewing the costs and financial benefits of solar thermal technology, Chinatown CDC determined it to be an excellent long-term investment,” said Karen Gansen, Chinatown CDC’s Chief Financial Officer. “Aside from reducing the building’s carbon footprint, this system will also cut Larkin Pine’s natural gas bills for decades to come.”

“Pacific Gas & Electric Company is pleased to see commercial organizations like Chinatown CDC lead the way in taking advantage of the CSI-Thermal incentive program,” said Nick Stimmel, Sr. Project Manager, Solar and Customer Generation at PG&E. “With CSI-Thermal incentives at their highest tier today [$12.82 per therm offset], now is a great time to invest in solar thermal.”

“This system has introduced an important San Francisco organization to the benefits of solar thermal technology,” said Justin Weil, president of SunWater Solar. “We hope this will inspire other groups that own large multifamily buildings to consider solar thermal as a way to reduce water-heating costs for their own properties.”


Sustainable Energy Partners (SEP), a clean energy consulting firm working with Chinatown CDC to improve building energy efficiency, recommended solar water-heating for several Chinatown CDC buildings, including Larkin Pine Senior Housing. Firms that assisted with system installation include Haase Energy Tank and Architectural Fenestration & Restoration. A SunReports monitoring device makes system performance data available online for the system owner and installer.