The Oakland EcoBlock, Phase II: A Zero Net Energy, Low Water-Use Retrofit Neighborhood
Research project to implement a replicable block-scale electrification retrofit and microgrid of older homes, to strengthen resiliency to power outages, improve indoor air quality, and empower residents to co-own their means of energy production.
The project team has conducted energy audits on 25 residences in a block in Oakland and has worked with PG&E to develop a rooftop solar plus central battery microgrid. The block homeowners have incorporated a nonprofit mutual benefit Association to co-own and manage the microgrid assets. In 2022, the recipient plans to finalize design and engineering plans, recruit Members to the Association, upgrade electrical systems, conduct electrification in homes, install the solar panels, and prepare for the installation of the large central battery.
Leveraging economies of scale, the EcoBlock advances a new model for scaling Distributed Energy Resources (DER) in existing neighborhoods through block-scale retrofitting that combines energy efficiency retrofit strategies, integrated distributed energy generation systems, and water conservation and capture systems in a low-to-middle income neighborhood in the City of Oakland. This project is the second Phase of the EPIC Challenge: Accelerating the Deployment of Advanced Energy Communities. This project will implement the master plan developed in Phase I.
By aggregating the required design, permitting, financing, and construction work across a block of homes, the EcoBlock concept reduces transaction costs, overcomes information barriers, and allows access to lower-cost financing.
By aggregating and collectively controlling the electrical load of an entire block allows the cost-effective construction of a microgrid with shared DERs that lowers capital costs and improves operational efficiency.
Reduced electricity consumption and peak demand reduction, achieved by the energy retrofits, local storage, and the microgrid controller scheme proposed in this project, will avoid reliance on least-reliable generation sources.
Consumers are safer when more appliances can be switched to locally generated power during grid outages. Removing natural gas fueled appliances will reduce indoor air pollutants.