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2019 AIA Florida Design Awards

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El Caño Urban Resilience Initiative

Merit Award | Sustainable Design

El Caño Urban Resilience Initiative

Merit Award | Sustainable Design

Designed by Resilient Power Puerto Rico.

This intervention is an effort to confront the humanitarian crisis that ensued after hurricanes Irma and Maria caused massive destruction to the islands of Puerto Rico, collapsing the energy grid and damaging 80% of the transmission and distribution lines. Launched just after the devastating landfall of the hurricane and organized by a group of Puerto Rican diaspora from New York City, the project sought to bring resilience to cities and communities by quickly offering photovoltaic (PV) energy systems and battery storage. These solar microgrids were created through donations of materials and work and developed by a group of collaborators in New York and Puerto Rico. Solar microgrids offered relief by providing the electric power necessary to provide basic services such as enabled communications, purified water, and the lighting of public spaces. The pilot project of this effort was set up in four community centers in the Caño Martín Peña sector of San Juan, one of the densest urban communities in Puerto Rico. The solar hubs provided five to seven KW of power to each center, working with existing building systems to maximize the benefits to the community of 26,000 residents. Working with local electrical engineers and certified installers, our project provided then built a team to address the specific needs of each urban center. Community participation was paramount to make sure the solutions worked well with the specific needs and expectations of the population of residents they were serving. Each solar hub costs between $25,000 and $30,000, and was built with help from the community. Funds came entirely from donations and went directly to the community benefited installations.

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