The William Penn Hotel

The William Penn Hotel
San Francisco County

The Chinatown Community Development Center (“CCDC”) is a nonprofit San Francisco community development organization that serves Chinatown, North Beach, & the Tenderloin.

Over the last 40 years, CCDC has built and maintains over 2,600 low-income rental apartments for families, seniors, formerly homeless and disabled residents in San Francisco. Keeping the rents as affordable as possible for residents means keeping an eye on operating costs, and since many of CCDC’s buildings are master metered, energy costs are a significant portion of operating costs.

The William Penn Hotel is a 94-unit single room occupancy building located at 160 Eddy Street in San Francisco that was owned by a hotel developer when CCDC took it over in 1992. It is one of six buildings in CCDC’s portfolio upgraded using BayREN’s Bay Area Multifamily Building Enhancements program. When CCDC acquired William Penn over 20 years ago, energy efficiency was not a top priority. There were more urgent measures that needed to be addressed to make the building habitable and affordable.

In fact, none of the six CCDC buildings selected to participate in the program had been comprehensively rehabbed in 20-40 years. Much of the buildings’ equipment had been maintained beyond its intended lifetime and struggled to operate while wasting a lot of energy. Sources of funding that the nonprofit had utilized to make upgrades in the past were becoming increasingly difficult to access, and maintenance had been deferred as a result. The Bay Area Multifamily Building Enhancements program allowed CCDC to be proactive on making needed repairs.

Project Scope for the William Penn:
•Installation of thermostatic radiator valves (TRVs)
•Domestic hot water pipe insulation increased from none or ½ inch to 1 inch
•Broken steam system air vent replacement
•Attic insulation upgrade
•Central natural gas domestic hot water boiler replacement
•LED lighting upgrades throughout building

The organization benefitted from economies of scale by tackling energy efficiency upgrades at six properties at once. This strategy proved particularly valuable when it came to tasks they could combine for all six projects such as securing the capital needed to cover the upfront costs, getting engineering support, purchasing & providing project oversight.

Installing similar scopes on all six buildings allowed the project team to manage the process efficiently. Though details were customized to each building’s needs, the scopes typically included lighting, attic insulation, and boiler improvements. With LED upgrades, CCDC reduced lighting energy demands from 100 watts to 15 watts. New domestic water heaters saved gas and provided more consistent hot water. Efficient electronic controls replaced manual timers on heating systems. Brighter more efficient signage now illuminates the exit paths. And added attic insulation improved the indoor temperature and comfort. Over time, CCDC will capture a healthy return on investment through lowered utility and maintenance costs which will, in turn, free up further investment toward expanding the organization’s impact.

San Francisco Environment (“SFE”) partnered with CCDC to provide Technical Assistance on all six Single Room Occupancy buildings. Following the no-cost building assessment performed by SFE, the project team could speak more concretely about the savings and value related to energy improvements. “At the end of the day”, reflects Senior Construction Manager Heather Heppner, “moving forward with the upgrades was a business decision, but it took momentum to get approval to get the ball rolling.” The momentum did not stop with the Bay Area Multifamily Building Enhancement Program.

Once they turned their attention to these buildings, and learned about additonal energy-saving options, project management started to set their sights on Zero Net Energy possibilities. After participating in the Bay Area Multifamily Building Enhancements program, CCDC applied for and was awarded a $3 million grant from the California Energy Commission to remodel William Penn into a Zero Net Energy Building, bringing the City of San Francisco closer to its goal of 100 ZNE buildings.

Property Profile
Location
San Francisco
Owner
Chinatown Community Development Center
# of Units
92
# of Buildings
1
Sq. ft.
41836
Year Built
1908
Upgrade at a Glance
Energy Savings

29%

Rebate Amount

$69,000

Measures Included

•Installation of thermostatic radiator valves (TRVs)
•Domestic hot water pipe insulation increased from none or ½ inch to 1 inch
•Broken steam system air vent replacement
•Attic insulation upgrade
•Central natural gas domestic hot water boiler replacement
•LED lighting upgrades throughout building

Other Benefits

•Improved comfort and lower heating costs from roof insulation
•Increased safety from improved lighting