Palo Alto, California [RenewableEnergyAccess.com] New housing developments in California are becoming known more and more for the solar arrays they display. Developer Clarum Homes has completed the 132-apartment Vista Montana community in Watsonville, California, which, according to Clarum, houses the nation’s largest building integrated solar electric system ever installed in an apartment community.GE Energy supplied a 60-kW system of building integrated photovoltaic (BIPV) roofing tiles for the complex that should make it possible for the building to get over 90 MWh of electricity annually from the sun. In addition to the BIPV system, the Vista Montana apartment community was designed with the goal of including as many energy efficient and renewable building features as possible, without sacrificing the comfort of its residents. Energy consultant ConSol used a systems engineering approach to produce homes on a community scale that used 40 percent less energy. The homes were engineered to minimize each home’s energy loads through ConSol’s ComfortWise program so that most of the electrical needs could be met by the BIPV array. The program includes the installation of tightly sealed ductwork, a high-efficiency heating and ventilation system, and smart glass windows. Hydronic heating units were used to achieve energy efficiency through the combined function of heating both the water and the living space. Over 60 percent of the framing on this project was done with engineered lumber, and recycled-content decking was used for all patios and balconies. “With skyrocketing energy costs and continued concerns over energy shortages, Clarum’s entire company focus is to combine renewable building practices and alternative energy solutions with affordable and entry-level housing,” said John Suppes, Vice President of Clarum Homes.