Housing Affordable Housing Community Very Green

Cypress Estates, an affordable housing community in Houston, Texas, has been named as a finalist for Best Example of Green Building Concepts award from the National Association of Homebuilders. The senior living facility is rated the highest Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification, Platinum.

The building, for residents ages 55 and older, makes use of energy-efficient construction and Energy Star appliances. Solar panels generate up to 60 percent of the buildings energy needs. The one and two bedroom units are net zero energy usage, meaning they use only as much energy as is produced through self-means.  Water usage is reduced with flow-flow plumbing fixtures, and a rainwater reclamation system channels rainfall from the roofs into storage tanks that supply drip irrigation for native, drought-tolerant landscaping.

image via Cypress Estates

Outdoor features of the community also reflect the green elements indoors. Walking trails and sidewalk surfaces are made of recycled concrete. Green-certified kitchen cabinetry and wood products certified by the Forest Stewardship Council are used throughout. Several bicycle storage facilities and electric car charging stations promote a lifestyle that is believed to be healthier for residents and for the environment.

The 88-unit Cypresswood Estates costs a little more than a previous community built just months earlier. Project designers believe  the higher cost is worth the long-term benefit that can be achieved if more housing authorities embrace green practices and materials in their multifamily and mixed-use communities.

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Kristy Hessman is a writer and native Oregonian who currently resides in California. Before starting her own company, she worked as a reporter covering business and politics for daily newspapers and The Associated Press.