By Andie Lowenstein, Associate Editor
San Diego—An eco-friendly apartment community that opened in 2009 is taking its EcoLiving lifestyle to the next level.
Aquatera, a 254-unit community, is making upgrades with a solar energy installation allowing residents to receive 100 percent of their energy from the sun. Each unit also features smart NEST thermostats so residents can control the power use in their unit as well as individual utility bills.
“Our residents can control how much energy they consume and have the potential to reduce their energy costs to zero or even receive a rebate,” said H.G. Fenton Company President Mike Neal. “When we opened Aquatera, it was a model community for incorporating green building and planning, particularly with regards to water use. With this innovative solar energy program, it is also a model for sustainable energy use and eco-friendly living.”
During initial construction, Aquatera received a 282-kilowatt photovoltaic solar energy system that provided 90 percent of the community’s common area electricity. The new solar panels, installed by H.G. Fenton this spring, added 539 kilowatts in solar power capability. The larger 821-kilowatt system generates enough electricity for Aquatera to become 100 percent solar-powered.
Aquatera fully exceeds California’s energy efficiency standards and showcases other sustainable features such as electric vehicle charging stations, a solar-heated swimming pool, water-smart landscaping measures like an underground well system, drought-tolerant plants requiring minimal to no irrigation, and synthetic turf instead of grass. Upon opening, Aquatera was honored with a Water Smart award from the San Diego County Water Authority for its water efficient design and water savings. Aquatera is the second all-solar apartment community in San Diego and one of the first in the nation to offer “net zero” living to customers.
Aside from living in one of the most eco-conscious communities in the nation, Aquatera highlights other amenities and design elements that create excellent lifestyle opportunities for residents. Each apartment unit includes high-end touches such as cherry wood cabinets, stainless steel appliances, track lighting, in-home washer/dryers, intrusion alarms, air conditioning, and nine-foot ceilings. Most units also include a private, single-car garage. Community amenities include a 10,000-square-foot, two-story clubhouse with a fitness center, cyber café, professional-grade kitchen and a club room with flat screen TVs, a pool table and PlayStation 4 and Xbox One gaming systems. A 25-meter saltwater pool with a large deck, complimentary towel service, spa, and barbecue are available for resident enjoyment as well.