Green multi-family housing is more often associated with high-end developments than affordable housing, but in Georgia, a new public housing project designed by Lord, Aeck & Sargent aims to break the mold. According to the architecture firm, The Village Green apartment homes it designed for the Northwest Georgia Housing Authority (NWGHA) demonstrate that public housing can be sustainably designed with no significant added costs.
Located in the city of Rome, this new, energy-efficient, 10-unit public housing project is expected to earn LEED for Homes certification at the Silver level — a first for a project of this type in Georgia — as well as Energy Star and Enterprise Green Community Certification. Funded primarily through an American Recovery and Reinvestment Act competitive grant of $1,732,504 from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the project was also supported by NWGHA, which threw in an additional $350,000 from its annual operating budget for improvements to the site.
“It’s important to understand that sustainable design is achievable without having to add significant cost and complexity to a project,” said Jay Silverman, project manager for Lord, Aeck & Sargent, in a statement. He goes on to note that, for his firm, it wasn’t about meeting LEED or other performance standards, it was about incorporating sustainability into the project as a way to improve the quality and livability of the apartment homes, and to lower operating costs for the residents and client while staying within the project’s alotted budget. “By saving on operating costs,” he said, “the Housing Authority can use its annual budget to provide better resources and programs.”
Green features of the project include passive solar orientation, daylighting harvesting strategies such as skylights, sun shades (to reduce solar gain), and natural ventilation (including operable windows and screens). Spray foam insulation was used in the walls and roof to maximize the building’s energy performance, and solar thermal heaters in each unit provide hot water to residents courtesy of the sun, reducing their monthly utility bills.
All units feature double hung, low-E insulated windows; Energy Star qualified lighting, ceiling fans and appliances; low-flow water fixtures and WaterSense toilets; and low VOC finishes.