Better Buildings Challenge Multifamily Newsletter: April 2021

In This Issue:

Key Announcements

  • The Clean Energy States Alliance (CESA) directory of state low- and moderate-income (LMI) clean energy programs is now available as an interactive online database. Use this resource to quickly compare different LMI clean energy programs.

  • Don't miss this new report that analyzes energy use, emissions, and operational cost data from six New York City multifamily Passive House buildings. Published by Bright Power, the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development, The Community Preservation Corporation, Building Energy Exchange, and Steven Winter Associates, the report shows that Passive House buildings perform 32 percent to 58 percent better than comparable peers.

Cover of Multifamily Passive House: Connecting Performance in Financing Report

The newly released "Multifamily Passive House: Connecting Performance in Financing" Report

  • Mark your calendar for the Department of Energy’s Advanced Building Construction Collaborative Summit on April 28, 2021 from 11:30 AM – 5:00 PM EDT. The event will focus on the technologies and business models needed to bring the U.S. construction sector into a decarbonized, affordable, digital, and highly productive era.

  • Register today for the virtual, no-cost 2021 Better Buildings, Better Plants Summit the week of May 17, 2021. Engage with multifamily peers, explore emerging technologies, and share strategies for energy and water efficiency, waste reduction, workforce development, and more.

    Better Buildings, Better Plants 2021 Summit graphic

Multifamily Challenge Partners Lead the Way in High-Efficiency Affordable Housing

America’s cities face several urgent and compounding challenges, including: increasing threats from climate change, the scarcity of affordable housing for low-income households, and hazards to resident health from poor air quality and contamination. To address these multiple challenges, four Better Buildings Challenge multifamily partners have contributed to the 2020 edition of “Blueprint for Greening Affordable Housing” by Walker Wells and Kimberly Vermeer. The book examines how green building principles can be incorporated into affordable housing design, construction, and operations to provide housing stability while reducing environmental and climate impacts.

Tall apartment building

REACH CDC's Orchards at Orenco property.

Jonathan Rose, CEO of Challenge partner Jonathan Rose Companies, frames the topic in the book’s foreword. Rose, whose 361-unit Sendero Village property in the Bronx is featured as a case study in the book, describes green affordable housing as an example of restorative environmental justice that addresses human needs for both housing and a healthy environment. Challenge partners REACH CDC, Rural Ulster Preservation Company, and Aeon share detailed case studies on providing high-performing, healthy buildings for low-income families.

Case Study – REACH CDC: Orchards at Orenco

Orchards at Orenco in Hillsboro, Oregon is the largest multifamily building built to Passive House standards in North America. The 57-unit building is expected to achieve a nearly 90 percent energy reduction for heating and 60-70 percent reduction for overall energy use compared with buildings of similar size in the region. The property takes advantage of solar orientation, triple pane windows, a heat-recovery system, air source heat pumps, and a super-insulated and extremely airtight building envelope.

Case Study – Rural Ulster Preservation Company (RUPCO): The Lace Mill

Previously an abandoned factory, the U.S. Lace Curtain Mill in Kingston, New York has been transformed into 55 units of affordable housing with incorporated artist’s gallery and studio spaces. Working with historic preservation experts, RUPCO expects 43 percent energy savings from several energy efficiency measures: solar photovoltaic panels on the building’s roof, state-of-the-art thermal heating and cooling, energy recovery ventilation, roof and wall insulation, and ENERGY STAR® appliances.

Case Study – Aeon: The Rose

The Rose is a mixed-income housing project in Minneapolis developed by Challenge partner Aeon and Hope Community. The Rose’s energy use intensity (EUI) is expected to be 30, a figure that is 72 percent more efficient than the building-code baseline. Water use is expected to be half that of a similarly sized multifamily building; the building’s façade is a solar wall with solar thermal panels that provide 35 percent of the hot water. Total project cost for the 90-unit project was $36.1 million, of which construction costs were $23 million, or $151 per square foot.

Read more about Challenge partners’ contributions to “Blueprint for Greening Affordable Housing” on the Better Buildings Beat Blog.

Spotlight on Partner Success

  • Congratulations to Truth or Consequences Housing Authority on earning ENERGY STAR® certification for its property. Located in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, the property provides subsidized affordable apartments for the elderly and disabled. Villa del Sol’s 1-100 ENERGY STAR® Score is 96, meaning that it is more energy efficient than 96 percent of similar properties nationwide. Energy savings have been achieved by implementing lighting retrofits and installing high efficiency windows, programmable thermostats, and solar PV panels.

Villa del Sol Apartments

Villa del Sol Apartments in Truth or Consequences, NM

  • 2Life Communities is piloting a project with its utility companies, Eversource and National Grid, to quantify the energy saving potential of a wireless monitoring system that turns off in-unit HVAC when windows are open. One system was installed at Brown Family House and another is planned for Kurlat House.
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