Green Real Estate Agents Help "Power" Veterans Through Solar in Habitat for Humanity Homes

Posted by Macie Melendez on November 09, 2015
Green Real Estate Agents Help
Willis Allen Real Estate President Andy Nelson talks to Paul Cleary of GRID Alternatives San Diego.

Andy Nelson is the CEO and president of San Diego-based Willis Allen Real Estate. Joining the firm in 1977 as the youngest team member, Nelson drew on his leadership experience and training as a former naval officer to implement his innovative ideas and became CEO four years later. Nelson continues to grow the business by researching new high-end companies throughout the world to partner with and advancing technology and tools to service today’s homeowner. One of these partnerships includes the Operation: Solar for San Diego Troops initiative.   

Operation: Solar for San Diego Troops is an initiative set in place to transition veterans to clean and renewable energy by GRID Alternatives San Diego, a non-profit organization that brings the benefits of solar technology to low-income communities. Willis Allen Real Estate is donating time and a grant to help GRID Alternatives provide energy cost-savings and a source of clean energy to local veterans’ homes recently completed by Habitat for Humanity.

This week, fittingly on Veteran’s Day, the groups will complete a multi-home build in one Lakeside, California neighborhood where four veterans will receive solar power. The event has dozens of volunteers (including local veterans) participating.

We wanted to learn more.

Macie Melendez: Why did Willis Allen Real Estate decide to get involved with this initiative?

Andy Nelson: We are passionate about this project. As a veteran myself, I’m honored to be a part of something that gives back to those who’ve served. We’ve just designated 30 agents as ‘green’ meaning they are qualified to assist both buyers and sellers in making environmentally friendly decisions about their homes. This is our way of walking the walk, not just talking the talk. We’re committed to making our community more environmentally conscious and look forward to maintaining a relationship with GRID Alternatives for future builds.

MM: How will veterans benefit from receiving solar power?

AN: The economic issues faced by veterans are more significant than the general population. By providing a large grant, as well as fundraising and volunteering, Willis Allen Real Estate aims to reduce the cost of housing for veterans through solar power, which can save the average family 60 to 85% of their monthly electric bill based on current rates. Also, factoring in the benefits of cleaner air and the reduction of carbon emissions, there are additional economic benefits with potentially lower health care costs. This offers an economic benefit to local San Diego veterans, and will help lead the city toward a brighter environmental future through solar energy. Willis Allen Real Estate is helping GRID Alternatives provide these men and women that have served our country the ability to have a sense of pride in their homes and give them the opportunity to help make San Diego a greener place by taking part in the actual installation of the solar panels on their homes. It’s really our way—and our time—to serve those who served us.

MM: How many homes has this initiative built to date?

AN: Operation: Solar for San Diego Troops is a continuation of GRID Alternative San Diego’s work to provide solar energy to low income veterans and military families. This year alone, the non-profit has provided 10 veteran families in San Diego County with solar power.

MM: How much energy has the program saved through solar power?

AN: An average solar system installed by GRID Alternatives is 3kw. Over 25 years, that’s 141,957 kilowatts of power generated, saving $32,284 per system installed.

MM: Can any veteran be nominated to receive solar panels?

AN: Yes. Individuals can nominate a veteran who will benefit by sending their name and a brief story to

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