Mission-Overview-Process and Integration
Our mission is to develop affordable housing projects and supportive services with energy efficient features that are environmentally friendly, thereby reducing the residents monthly bills and the operating cost of the property……SUSTAINABILITY and STABILITY.
Over the past decade, there has been a virtual explosion of activity in the field of green building. It is hard not to be intrigued by the possibility of building projects that are more energy efficient, use recycled and sustainably harvested or responsibly manufactured materials, use less water, improve occupant health, preserve habitat and ecosystems, promote community, are of higher quality, and cost less to operate. Intriguing, yes; but is green building a luxury that is out of reach for affordable housing developers? Will building green add complexity, time, and cost to projects that are already difficult to complete?
Horizontal Wind turbines are a source of power on a rooftop.
Building green affordable housing certainly takes vision and commitment. But over the past few years projects all around the country have demonstrated that green affordable housing can be built cost effectively by developers without previous green building experience and without driving themselves crazy. The best testimonial is that all of the developers with green building experience we know would build green again.
We employ the following eight principles as a framework for developing our green affordable housing project.
The most important thing to remember, and the common thread among these principles, is that greening is not something that is added onto a project after it is designed. On the contrary, a successful and cost effective green project weaves the concepts of greening into the project from its inception. Adding green features after a project is designed is inefficient and costly, ultimately adds less value to the housing, and misses opportunities to address many big picture issues, like project site orientation, passive solar heating, multi-purpose spaces, and modular or panelized construction, to name a few. We believe that Modular Housing is the “GREEN WAY FORWARD”
The Eight Principles
- We assemble a project team that is motivated to develop a green project and has the skills and experience to make it happen. Our team has the diverse set of skills and experience required to do accomplish the project goals.
- We employ a multidisciplinary, integrated design process to incorporate environmental, social, and health concerns into a cost-effective design and development strategy. We get the best results from our team by using an integrated design process. In an integrated design process, the essential elements of the project, including goals and strategies for greening, are developed by a multi-disciplinary team that may include the owner, architect, builder, construction manager, engineers, landscape architect, finance partners, green consultant, development consultant, and building operations staff.
- We utilize green project standards as a guide and measure of the proposed design, not as a cookbook or checklist. To help guild our team and take stock of our proposed design, We use standards such as LEED (www.usgbc.org), The Enterprise Foundation’s Green Communities Criteria(www.greencommunitiesonline.com), the Vermont Builds Greener program (geared to single-family rural housing) (www.bsr-vt.org/vermontbuiltgreenprogram.html), or some of the many others that may be adapted based on the project.
- We perform cost/benefit analyses on key project components. Life cycle costing demonstrates to the development team the value of greening. NEI’s Costs and Benefits of Green Affordable Housing report demonstrates that green features that yield operating savings in energy consumption, water use, or building maintenance often have a significant payback over the life of a project and a positive net present value, even when there is an increased first cost.
- We take advantage of utility rebates, technical assistance programs, and foundation grants to support the greening efforts. We can access Green building programs that are available in our region and take advantage of it at the beginning of our project. An easy place to start is the green building links at the U.S. Green Building Council’s website, www.usgbc.org. Be sure to investigate local Energy Star and utility conservation programs.
- Build the standards, materials, and procedures developed in the design process into the contracts and specifications of the project. Clarify the purpose of the project with contractors and subcontractors, and work with them to ensure that they have the training and understanding to carry out the intention of the design.
The intent of the project is ultimately carried out by the builders.
- Budget for careful monitoring of the construction process and commissioning of systems prior to occupancy. Be sure the owner’s representative on the construction site is familiar with the green goals of the project and the construction techniques that will help meet these goals. Commissioning, a post-construction check to insure that all systems and features are installed and operating as designed, is especially important if any unfamiliar technology is used. However, even with “standard” systems, components are often improperly installed or adjusted.
- We educate our tenants and maintenance staff on how to use the systems and keep the project green. We make sure that residents know that they are moving into a different kind of space, why it is different and how they need to use systems and maintain their space.
Green Building Meets Affordable Housing – Goals
Though green buildings are often promoted as reducing impacts on the environment – less natural resource and energy use, improved air quality through use of non-toxic materials, lower greenhouse gas emissions – it is important to consider environmental benefits in the context of the conventional goals for affordable housing: affordability, performance, and health/community. Green building principles can help achieve these objectives while at the same time improving environmental performance.
Green housing is not necessarily more expensive to construct and in some cases can be built below the cost of traditional housing. From a long-term (building lifetime) perspective, the improved efficiency of a green building reduces the operating costs associated with electricity, heating fuel, and water.
Green principles can improve the durability of a building so that it lasts a long time without significant degradation, thereby reducing maintenance requirements and avoiding future replacements. Moreover, improved building envelope, temperature control, and appropriate ventilation can lead to higher levels of comfort, an important element of green buildings.
By choosing materials carefully during the design phase and through proper installation and maintenance of heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems, indoor air quality can be made healthier for the building’s inhabitants, and emissions to the environment can be reduced.
The Following Are Some Green Building Features:
• All Project Design are LEED rated from U.S. Green Building Council
• High Efficient Energy Star Appliances & lighting Fixtures
• Solar Thermal Hot Water Systems
• Low-Volatile Organic Paints, Sealants, & Adhesives
• Green Roof
• Geothermal HVAC Systems
• Rain Gardens
• Gray Water Systems
• Horizontal Wind Turbines
• Photovoltaic Solar Power Generating Plants