National CORE’s First All-Electric, Zero Net Energy Community
Earlier this month, Representative Norma J. Torres, Ontario Mayor Paul Leon, and other city leaders from the cities of Ontario and Pomona toured the highly anticipated affordable housing community of Vista Verde in Ontario, CA. Vista Verde is a centerpiece in the City of Ontario’s efforts to bring new investment and opportunities to its historic downtown area by creating a modern urban village that sparks economic and sustainable growth. Funded in part by a $35 million Transformative Climate Communities (TCC) grant from the California Strategic Growth Council, Vista Verde is one of the first all-electric, zero net energy communities, designed and constructed using cost-efficient technologies and innovative approaches.
Vista Verde’s design is in alignment with Rep. Torres’ advocacy for affordable housing and sustainable development. During the tour, National CORE employees shared their cost-contained high-performance approach to development, expanding on how Vista Verde’s all-electric, zero net energy design not only benefits its residents by reducing utility costs but also allows National CORE to decrease operational costs over the lifetime of the development.
Because of the additional TCC funding from the state, National CORE President and CEO Steve PonTell commented, “We did things with this development from an environmental energy conservation perspective that really set a new standard in the entire state.” That includes National CORE installing 384 kilowatts of photovoltaic solar panels on the community’s roofs and carports to generate 100% of Vista Verde’s energy, creating an ultra-tight exterior envelope that maximizes the efficiency of the buildings heating and cooling systems, and using individual electric water heaters that are 3.5 times more efficient than standard water heaters.
In her leadership role as co-chair of the New Democrat Coalition’s congressional Housing Task Force, Rep. Torres has been an advocate for the need for affordable housing in the Inland Empire. In recent years, she has introduced legislation removing barriers to the development of affordable housing and directed national funding towards local affordable housing developments. National CORE was honored to have such a great proponent of affordable housing visit Vista Verde and discuss their shared vision for the future of affordable housing in the region. Rep. Torres introduced a bill to support sustainable community planning in 2019, the same year that National CORE became the first developer to sign onto the American Institute of Architects’ 2030 Commitment, joining other organizations committed to changing how communities design and develop, with the goal of combatting the effects of climate change.
“When we build, we build for the long term,” PonTell said. “We’re willing to make more upfront investments because we know we’re going to make that money back over time.”
The high need for housing affordability was a consistent theme throughout the tour. Vista Verde is a stunning affordable housing community providing 101 apartment homes for individuals with qualifying income maximums between 30 and 60 percent of the area median income. Upon completion, National CORE had more than 3000 households apply for housing. Rep. Torres commented that she was both heartened by the fact that 100 families now have a beautiful place to call home and deeply saddened for those who continue to struggle to find affordable housing.
“The Vista Verde apartment complex will meet the needs of the growing Ontario community with affordable, desirable housing that will help reinvigorate the historic downtown area,” Rep. Norma J. Torres said. “I was pleased to see the impressive complex in person earlier this month, and I congratulate National CORE for leading the way to an all-electric, zero net energy community that will be an incredible place for Ontario residents to call home.”
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About National CORE
National Community Renaissance, based in Southern California, is one of the nation’s largest nonprofit developers of award-winning affordable housing. National CORE manages nearly 9,000 affordable, senior, and market-rate units in California, Texas, and Florida. National CORE’s strength is in its ability to offer partners an array of in-house capabilities that navigates the complexities of planning, developing, building, managing, and providing supportive services. For more information on National CORE, please visit www.nationalcore.org.