The “nZNE” Challenge

In 2016, Groundwork San Diego received an Energy Commission EPIC Challenge grant, a competition that challenges multi-disciplinary teams to conceptualize and master-plan an Advanced Energy Community (AEC) that can serve as a model for other communities. The EPIC Challenge is an invitation to envision new possibilities for California’s 21st-century energy system and to imagine what role communities will play in its creation and to empower communities as never before.

GWSD will develop a prototype plan to transform Encanto into Chollas EcoVillage – an AEC. The plan conceptualizes a “near-Zero Net Energy (nZNE) District” that includes distributed energy resources, an integrated electric transportation system, highly efficient businesses, and no- and low‐carbon generation of local resources such as sustainable bioenergy. In its simplest terms, a ZNE community is one in which its annual energy usage is matched by locally generated, renewable energy.  Going ZNE reduces energy use, lowers the effect of human activities on climate change and preserves the quality of life in the community.

The EcoVillage

The disadvantaged community of Encanto is located in Southeastern San Diego. Encanto has transitioned only within the last decade from a former industrial area, to a mixed-use, smart-growth transit corridor served by two high usage light-rail and intermodal regional bus stations. Encanto is a densely populated community with an Area Median Income of $35,000, which is approximately half that of the overall region with over a quarter of residents living below the federal poverty level.
The project area is roughly bounded by I-94, Euclid Avenue, Imperial Avenue and I-805. There are six public schools within the project area, approximately 2,000 residential units, numerous commercial buildings such as retail stores, restaurants, office buildings, medical offices and public facilities like libraries.Groundwork San Diego’s Earthlab will be a central resource for this project.

Led by Groundwork San Diego, this project is an unprecedented cross-sector coalition that includes San Diego Unified School District, UC San Diego and SDG&E, and enjoys support from the City of San Diego and other organizations all committed to advancing the City of San Diego Climate Action Plan, developing new models of sustainability that support environmental, economic prosperity, and environmental justice goals.

The EcoHouses

Groundwork San Diego, in partnership with UC San Diego, the City of San Diego, SDG&E, and hundreds of engaged residents, has begun water and energy conservation upgrades on homes in the Chollas View neighborhoods. The community will see immediate benefits in terms of education and awareness on energy and conservation technologies, climate change and climate action. In the long-term the project will result in increased financial savings, community self-sufficiency in energy, pride in designing and participating in climate action initiatives, reduced pollution and health challenges. Moreover, this project will bring significant economic benefits in addition to lower energy costs to the entire community.

Each member of the community whether it is residents or businesses or developers will have the choice to participate in this exciting opportunity. Groundwork San Diego intends for the community to be involved at the beginning, middle and end of the efforts.

Your Home Makeover

Over a dozen residents, renters and homeowners, have been selected to receive free home improvements that will reduce their energy and water bills, and improve the environment.

Those include

  • rain barrels and rain gutters
  • laundry-to-landscape greywater systems
  • native plant yards
  • fruit trees
  • low-flush toilets
  • showerhead replacement
  • in some cases, roof-top solar

If you are interested in entering the raffle to win these upgrades, take the pledge on Facebook, or call Leslie at 619 543 0430.