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BI PV Urban Scale Project Details
Name projectClarum Homes - Vista Montana
Year2003-00-00 (Start operation date)
PV applicationInclined roof - mounted
PV power total kWp
LocationWatsonville, California
Latitude/Longitude36°54'59"N 121°46'18"W
© ConSol

Project summary
Vista Montana is one of many zero energy home (ZEH) developments by the Clarum Homes Development Company. It is the largest ZEH development in the US. Clarum made a commitment to ZEH in 1999 and introduced the Enviro-HomeTM in 2004. The program has also earned the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s ENERGY STAR® seal, ConSol’s ComfortWise SM designation, and the California Building Industry Institute’s California Green Builder certification. In total in Vista Montana 177 single-family homes, 80 townhouses, and 132 apartments have been built with 1.2 to 2.4 kWp, and with a calculated energy yield of 1400 kWh/kWp.

Urban scale PV aspects
The popular California home style is a Mediterranean which includes tile roofs, However, the offset panel mounts have proven successful and works aesthetically with the architectural design. The development layout is a grid to assure economical land use. In this case the multiple roof lines assist in correct orientation of the PV. The PV was a standard feature to the single family homes and town houses at a level of 1.2-2.4 KWp per residence.

Special PV project info
PV architecture and building integrationBetween the PV and the energy efficiency features, the homes energy bills are reduced nearly 90%. These features include tankless on-demand water heater, a high-efficiency furnace, a foam-wrapped building envelope, increased insulation, radiant roof barrier, advanced HVAC technology, tightly sealed ducts, and low-E energy-efficient windows, ceiling fans, fluorescent light bulbs. Water conserving plumbing fixtures, and water conserving landscaping are also incorporated, providing homeowners further utility savings. Green building products also provide a healthier living environment.
Urban planning issues
Economical and financial issuesThe state of California offers substantial rebates for PV systems and has some of the highest utility rates in the US. Additionally, residents of the state experienced rolling blackouts from electric supply problems. Therefore the market for ZEH is strong in the state. However, Clarum was one of the first US developers to enter the ZEH market and also discovered that a home with standard energy efficiency and PV in the design, differentiated the product from other home builders. The homes sold faster so that capital funds were not tied up as long and could be reutilized more quickly, thus increasing profits. In the case of Vista Montana, the development was built and sold out in one year. The original advertised price range was $399,000-$499,000, but some homes sold for as much as $600,000.
PV ownershipBuilding owner: Inhabitant. PV owner: Inhabitant. PV energy user: Inhabitant.
Tariffs and metering
Info on grid issuesThere were no specific grid issues. Pacific Gas and Electric is the largest IOU in the US state of California and second utility with the most solar in the US. The systems are interconnected and net metered with the exception of the PV on the apartment buildings, because laws prevent the landlord/building owner from selling electricity to tenants. Instead the PV energy is used for common loads and maintenance fees are reduced.
Other infoClarum works with the United States Department of Energy, Building America Program to use their cost and energy savings analysis to point to the most cost-effective combination of features for the climates it builds in. Once a cost-effective combination is chosen, economies of scale can be achieved through volume purchasing and training of subcontractors Other project company: ConSol.
Remarks and recommended readingJohn Suppes, founder and president of Clarum Homes advises other builders to just try solar on site generation with PV. “Solar electric power adds value to the homes we build,” said Suppes. “By giving homeowners the tools they need to generate their own electricity, we’re enabling them to save money on their utility bills. We’re also differentiating our homes in the marketplace. We set out to provide exceptional value for our customers by adding solar power, and in the process we did something exceptional for our business

Other project data
Type of projectCommercial project
Other relevant aspects
Start of PV project
Start operation PV system2003-00-00
Main project leading companyClarum Homes
Main project contact person
Contact email
Contact addressCorporate Headquarters, 599 College Avenue, Palo Alto, California 94306
Includes PV database projects

Urban district data
Kind of urban areaResidential - urban
Main building typesHouses - single house
New/Retrofit/AddedNew building integration
Main PV area address

PV systems
PV applicationInclined roof - mounted
PV power total urban project300 kWp
Number of dwellings/units389
PV power per dwellings/units1.2 kWp
Main PV system typesGrid-connected - demand side
Main PV module typesFramed - regular module
Main PV cell typesCrystalline silicon - mono
PV module brand and typeAstroPower
PV inverter brand and type

PV cost and energy production
Total PV system investment
Average PV modules only costs
Total PV energy yield1400 kWh Calculated
PV energy user owner

Projects websitehttp://www.clarum.com/
Other websites http://www.consol.ws/
Webpage Educational Tool

1. VistaMontana.pdf (language: English)

(bipv) building integrated pv