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Preservation of Affordable Housing, Brightcore Energy, and Engenium Group awarded $2.5M grant for a community geothermal pilot project at Barry Farm Redevelopment


Clean electric power to benefit local residents through New Jersey’s Community Solar program


WASHINGTON--()--Preservation of Affordable Housing (POAH), in partnership with Brightcore Energy and Engenium Group, was awarded a $2.5M grant by the Public Service Commission of the District of Columbia to incorporate a community geothermal system at the future mixed-use, mixed-income Barry Farm development in Southeast Washington, DC that will create 900 residential apartments, 40,000 square feet of new retail/service uses, open space, and significant new public infrastructure. This is the first pilot project in Washington, DC to support a large community heat pump system, and aims to replace fossil fuel space conditioning systems, improve and modernize the District’s energy delivery system, and make strides in clean energy.


A community geothermal system has many advantages, such as energy efficiency, cost savings, sustainability, and operational efficiency. By using the $2.5M grant to implement a community geothermal system, the Barry Farm development will benefit in the following ways:

  • Use less energy to transfer heat with the stable 50-60° F temperatures from the earth rather than air-cooled systems;
  • Decrease power usage through geothermal condensing units by up to 35% versus air-cooled outdoor units;
  • Increase heating capacities, lower refrigerant volumes, and the elimination of defrost cycles typically needed in the winter seasons;
  • Provide simultaneous heating and cooling throughout the buildings;
  • Reduction of penetrations in the building envelopes, which is beneficial for projects seeking passive house certification;
  • Less costly and reduced maintenance needs to manage the geothermal system than a typical air-cooled system;
  • Reduced construction costs due to the economy of scale of implementing this community level system.


“At POAH, we recognize that managing the environmental footprint is a critical piece of the preservation mission said Deanna Savage, POAH Vice President for Construction. “Reducing energy consumption saves money for both POAH and the residents in our communities and is key to providing durable, health and high-quality housing.”

“We’re very excited to be a part of a project that encompasses many elements of sustainability from passive house design to, now, a geothermal system. This opportunity prioritizes resilient and sustainable building design with an emphasis on community impact that we are proud to support. The dichotomy of a cutting-edge community geothermal system in such a historically significant location is such a unique and terrific opportunity”, said Mike Richter, President of Brightcore Energy.

“By installing a community geothermal system, we are partnering with the Public Service Commission of the District of Columbia in order to advance building electrification and create a more sustainable community," said Brandon Harwick, President & Managing Principal of Engenium Group. “Geothermal is advanced and progressive – just like our District. By implementing this community geothermal system, we’re staying true to DC’s mission to work towards a more innovative and clean future.”

Last September, POAH broke ground on the first building in its multi-phase development, the Asberry, a mixed-use building with 108 units of affordable rental senior (55+) housing and approximately 5,000 square feet of commercial space. This will be the first on-site building to be delivered under the New Communities Initiative at Barry Farm, a historically significant project for African Americans in Washington because the neighborhood was originally established in 1867 as the first African-American homeownership community in the District for newly freed slaves.

Once completed, the new overall redevelopment of Barry Farm will be a vibrant mixed-income community that will include at least 900 new affordable rental and for-sale housing units, of which 380 will be public housing replacement units. 
About Brightcore Energy

Brightcore Energy is a leading provider of end-to-end clean energy solutions to the commercial and institutional market. Solutions include high-efficiency heating and cooling systems (geothermal) for both new construction and existing building retrofits, commercial-grade solar, LED lighting and controls, energy storage, electric vehicle (EV) charging stations, smart building solutions and other emerging technologies. Brightcore’s turnkey, end-to-end solutions encompasses preliminary modeling & feasibility, design & engineering, financing & incentive management, construction & implementation, and system performance monitoring.


For more information on Brightcore Energy, visit


About Engenium Group

Engenium Group is a rapidly growing, boutique MEP engineering firm providing innovative, insightful, and sustainable solutions tailored to our client’s specific goals. With a strong emphasis on innovation and sustainability, Engenium Group provides tailored solutions that enhance the built environment while meeting the evolving needs of clients and communities. Engenium specializes in challenging mechanical, electrical, plumbing and fire protection design projects in the DC, Maryland, and Virginia region.


About Preservation of Affordable Housing (POAH)

Preservation of Affordable Housing is a nonprofit owner, developer, and manager of more than 13,000 affordable rental apartments in more than 130 properties in 11 states and the District of Columbia. In addition to its major revitalization development underway at the Barry Farm site, POAH owns a 94-unit affordable apartment complex in Southeast DC and 100 affordable apartments in Hagerstown, MD.


Maria Plati
Sr. Communications Director

Project News, Geothermal, Press Releases, Real Estate


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