This project is a 5-story affordable housing project that provides an unprecedented model for sustainable living. Located on a 13,459 square foot prime downtown site, the 29,900 s.f. project includes 44 studio units of approximately 375 s.f., each with its own bathroom and kitchen, a community room, a mail room, outdoor courtyard spaces, bike storage, laundry, and on-grade, covered parking for 20 cars. The project features state of the art technologies that distinguish it as a model of sustainable development. This project demonstrates how good design and sustainability can partner to create excellent solutions for the urban and social environment.
The project has already received tremendous attention as a model for future developments in the affordable housing sector and as a model for sustainable development across building types. It is one of 12 finalists for the 2003 World Habitat Awards. It has appeared on prime time network news programs and has been highlighted in several symposiums organized around the topics of affordable housing and sustainable development. In less than fifteen months over 3000 people have visited the project. The City of Santa Monica has elected to showcase this project as a demonstration project for their Green Building Design Guidelines. Global Green USA has featured it as a Case Study project. Students at Columbia University, University of North Carolina, Woodbury University and the University of California, Berkeley have also used it as a case study project. The owner and the architect continue to give tours of the building in order to foster education about affordable housing and green development to the local community of developers and building professionals. The project has provided valuable lessons on overcoming barriers to green development and has showcased new technologies for other developers and builders.
This project is one of the first buildings of its type in the United States that is 100% energy independent in that it is designed to produce as much energy as it uses through a natural gas powered turbine/heat recovery and a photovoltaic panel system. The co-generation system converts natural gas to electricity to meet the base load power needs of the building and captures waste heat to produce hot water for the building throughout the year as well as space heating needs in the winter. This system has a conversion efficiency of natural gas in excess of 70% compared to a less than 30% conversion efficiency of primary energy delivered by the utility grid at the building site. This system should pay for itself in less than ten years. During peak hours of the day, the solar photovoltaic system produces green electricity that releases no pollutants to the environment. Unused electricity is delivered to the grid during the daytime and retrieved from the grid at night, as needed. Annual savings in electricity and natural gas bills are estimated to be in excess of $10,000 annually. In conjunction with alternative materials and technologies, the thermal integrity of the building eliminates the need for air conditioning, reduces heating consumption, and creates greater comfort levels for residents. Extremely high efficiency appliances and energy efficient lighting devices specified throughout the project result in increased performance and decreased energy consumption and cost.