Redwood Energy is an 11-year-old certified Microbusiness with 9 staff from diverse backgrounds. We are a collaborative, innovative design firm that has worked with dozens of development teams on hundreds of all-electric, 100% solar offset designs over the last eleven years. According to SoCal Edison’s review of California's building permits, Redwood Energy designed 2/3rds of the all-electric multifamily housing built in Californiabetween 2012 and 2019, almost all of it also 100% solar offset. According to the 2020 Project Zero database,half of the Zero Net Energy residences in California, and one in four North American, were designed by Redwood Energy.

All of Redwood Energy’s multifamily developments are mixed-use, with offices, public transit hubs, retail,childcare facilities, restaurants, laundromats, and similar uses. Redwood Energy maintains records of construction cost bids for HVAC, Hot Water, Solar Arrays and Appliances, and we help lower costs for our affordable housing clients with recommendations grounded in real-world costs. This data has also proven valuable to organizations like the Sierra Club, NRDC, RMI, PG&E, SDG&E and the California Energy Commission. Redwood Energy has the largest database of circuit-level monitored residential energy use in North America—we have studied the second-by-second use of all circuits in 510 units in 9 developments since 2014. With this data we help our affordable housing clients design wisely, as well as publish in building science journals and support Code making bodies.

About Redwood Energy

Redwood Energy

Redwood Energy has led the design of more than 10,000 all-electric affordable housing residences, including the first ZNE apartments in North America in 2011, and the most ZNE residences in the nation from 2015-2020. Redwood Energy founded the nation's first conference on building electrification in 2016, in 2019 authored the first of six comprehensive guides to all-electric design, and have provided research for the 2016, 2019, 2022 and 2025 California Title 24 Energy Code.

Redwood Energy started in 2011 as a partnership between Sean Armstrong and Michael Winkler, and has grown into a terrific team of environmental activists who pursue the highest performance housing.

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Earth Day 2023 Beach and Marsh Clean-Up

Regional Experience

● Under contract with the City of San Francisco Department of the Environment, in 2018 Sean Armstrong was flown in and provided a half day of technical presentations on Building Electrification on how to avoid and minimize electric service upgrades when electrifying buildings while also meeting Equity goals. The City owns electrical infrastructure that competes with, but also uses, PG&E’s infrastructure, which makes electric service upgrades time intensive and expensive.To further assist, on a volunteer basis Redwood Energy has developed an Excel spreadsheet that calculates the National Electrical Code’s power requirements for multifamily housing of various design strategies and appliances. 

Mercy Housing has employed Redwood Energy on the $108M, 73 unit, 5 story tall Block 56, Hunters Point Shipyard community to perform comprehensive energy design services--Mechanical System Design Support, Title 24, CUAC utility allowances and Zero Net Energy solar array sizing. Redwood Energy lowered HVAC costs by hundreds of thousands of dollars with system recommendations, and secured support from San Francisco’s municipal utility for back-flowing a larger solar array into their system. Redwood Energy will commission the community with HERS, Non-Res Acceptance Testing and GreenPoint Rated certifications. 

● Redwood Energy has performed energy design on numerous similar affordable housing apartment complexes in nearby cities of the Bay Area including Berkeley, Oakland, Menlo Park, San Jose, Santa Rosa and Petaluma. 

● Redwood Energy has supported more than 350 applications to CTCAC and has exclusively served affordable housing developers since 2011. Redwood Energy is familiar with the funding requirements of the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development (MOHCD), California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD), California Debt Limit Allocation Committee (CDLAC) and Tax Credit Allocation Committee (TCAC).

Racial Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Approach

Redwood Energy is a certified Small (Micro) Business Enterprise by the California Department of General Services. 

Redwood Energy is a 50-50 partnership between Sean Armstrong and Michael Winkler, with 9 Staff that have been affirmatively recruited. Michael Winkler is Jewish, but does not consider his life to have been affected by his Jewish ethnicity. Sean Armstrong has identified as bisexual and genderqueer since freshman year of high school in 1990 in Wisconsin, and was subjected to intense amounts of physical threats and attacks before moving to California in 1995 to complete college. Moving to California involved giving up a full academic scholarship to Bowling Green State University in Ohio, where he attended freshman year and was physically attacked in the honors dormitory for identifying as bisexual. Sean has worn skirts in private since 2001, and in public since 2013.

Redwood Energy has implemented an Affirmative internship and staff hiring process since 2014. This has included: 

  • Internships between 2013 and 2019 were provided to any college student who expresses interest, under one condition--a “white” straight male should help recruit a second intern who is a woman or a person of color. This has never led to the rejection of a white male, only a larger group of interns. 
  • When legal changes required us to end unpaid internships, we began advertising BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) paid Staff Researcher positions at the Multicultural Center at Humboldt State University. 

Consequently Redwood Energy’s staff has grown to be diverse from many perspectives, including: 

  • Half of staff are BIPOC, including Native Hawaiian, Hispanic and Black
  • Half of staff are Non-Binary, Bisexual or Lesbian
  • Half of staff are the first in their family to graduate college, often due to their family immigrating within the last generation 
  • The majority of staff are women

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