Rome shows public housing can be affordable and green

A new 10-unit public housing project being built in the city of Rome, Georgia, demonstrated that public housing can be both affordable and sustainable. Details, and other similar projects around the country, are inside.


What Happened

A new 10-unit public housing project being built in the city of Rome, Georgia, will earn LEED, Energy Star and Enterprise Green Community Certification, the first of its kind in the state.

How?

Utilizing a $1.7 million grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the housing project was designed for the Northwest Georgia Housing Authority to demonstrate that public housing can be sustainable; the state Authority kicked in an additional $350,000 in funding. The architectural firm that was hired intended to save taxpayers on operational costs and minimize environmental impact, while keeping the project within a typical public-housing budget.

Elements

Among the characteristics utilize by the architects were:

  • Passive solar orientation
  • Natural ventilation
  • Spray foam insulation
  • Solar thermal heaters for hot water
  • Energy Star lighting, ceiling fans and appliances
  • Low water fixtures and toilets
  • Daylight harvesting (skylights/shades)

Similar Projects

The Metro Green project in Stamford, CT, packed with sustainable features, offers affordable housing as part of a mixed-use residential development located within walking distance of commuter rail and downtown shopping.

There is also an 88-unit project in Sydney, Australia, that eliminated underground parking as well as air conditioning in favor of secure bike parking and passive solar design and natural ventilation. Rainwater will be harvested and stored in water tanks beneath the building, and will then be used for gardening and in toilets. Solar power will be used for electricity and hot water, and motion sensors will be used to cut on lighting use.

The city of Boston is lowering the cost of operations in low-income housing through energy retrofits. And Benedict Park Place in Denver utilizes geothermal and solar energy for its mixed-income facilities, saving $43,000 annually in HUD utility subsidies.

Additional Resources

Extensive details on the public housing project can be found at the Web site of the architectural firm hired, Lord Aeck & Sargent. The firm also published a press release touting features of the project.

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