Leading a Town's Recovery

GREENSBURG, KAN. Prairie Pointe Townhomes marks a big step in the revival of this rural community.

The 16-unit development is one of the first projects completed in Greensburg since a May 4, 2007, tornado destroyed the town and killed 11.

Presented with a clean slate, the community decided to take after its name and rebuild as green as possible. Prairie Pointe leads the way, earning platinum certification under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design for Homes program. It's the first project in Kansas and one of the first low-income housing tax credit properties in the nation to receive platinum certification.

A goal of Prairie Pointe is to show that conventional design can be very green while not adding tremendous cost to the budget. “It is a model that can be replicated in many projects,” says developer Jay Manske of Manske & Associates.

The apartments, which serve seniors and families earning no more than 50 percent and 60 percent of the area median income, use about 36 percent less energy than conventional units.

The building envelope was designed for efficiency. Green features include a 2-by-6 exterior wall construction with blown-in cellulose insulation, high-effi- ciency air-source heat pumps, low-flow water fixtures, Energy Star appliances, low-volatile organic paint and sealants, and drought-resistant landscaping.

The $2.5 million project is built where the local high school recently stood. The school district donated the land to spur development.

One challenge was assessing the demand for housing when residents scattered following the tornado. The team launched a direct-mail campaign to everyone in the local phone book. Although many letters came back as undeliverable, there was enough interest to demonstrate a need for the housing, says Manske.

Prairie Pointe gives its residents and the town a fresh start. —Donna Kimura

A New Way of Thinking

CHULA VISTA, CALIF. Wakeland Housing & Development Corp.'s Los Vecinos Apartments changed the way the developer thinks about green and hopes the same will happen for its residents.

“It transformed the way we look at all of our projects. It got our minds working in that direction—what materials are more durable and will work better. And it's also about making projects more economical. The more economical, the more affordable housing we can create,” says Kenneth L. Sauder, president and CEO of Wakeland.

To create the 42-unit Los Vecinos, Wakeland started by recycling a blighted vacant motel in a revitalizing Latino neighborhood not far from the Mexico border.

A green highlight of the development is the savings that will be passed on to the residents. Los Vecinos features an extensive solar power system that will offset virtually 100 percent of the development's electricity use. With residents being assigned solar photovoltaic panels, they can achieve a “zero” annual electricity bill as long as they maintain reasonable electric use in their homes. Also, each home has low-water use appliances, which helps residents save on their water bills.

Wakeland also incorporated a high-effi- ciency irrigation system, drought-tolerant and native plants, and a synthetic turf play area. To ensure that Los Vecinos continues to operate as green, the residents receive a threehour training and orientation on the green features of their new home, recycling, and water and energy conservation.

“The tenants have really embraced it and learned from it,” says Robert Henderson, construction manager for Wakeland.

The $17.4 million development features one-, two-, and three-bedroom units for residents earning between 30 percent and 60 percent of the area median income. A bilingual service coordinator is on-site to coordinate after-school activities for children and educational and career training for adults. —Christine Serlin

Homeless Project Goes Green

DENVER The Colorado Coalition for Homeless had a dual purpose in mind when deciding to make its recent development, Renaissance Riverfront Lofts, green. The developer wanted to reduce its operating costs and be able to pass savings along to its residents.

“Building green simply makes sense. It significantly reduces overall costs—especially energy and water costs—making available more donor dollars for the housing, medical, mental health, substance treatment, and child-care programs that support Denver's homeless families and individuals,” says John Parvensky, president and CEO of the Colorado Coalition for Homeless.

Renaissance Riverfront has transformed a former brownfield near Denver's rail yards. The most visible green element is the solar photovoltaic panels on the roof, which will generate 40 megawatts of electricity a year and power the common areas. The development also features EcoSpace elevators, which use one-third of the energy of traditional elevators.

The five-story development features 89 one-bedroom and 11 two-bedroom units, and approximately 50 percent of the units will be reserved for individuals being served by the coalition. The project has deep income-targeting with units set aside for residents earning between 30 percent and 60 percent of the area median income.

The coalition is providing on-site supportive services, including two case managers, as well as access to other services at its Stout Street Clinic.

The $18 million development was financed with low-income housing tax credits and HOME funds. JPMorgan Chase also provided a $1.2 million permanent loan and an $8.5 million construction loan. —Christine Serlin

Wheeler Terrace Promotes Healthy Living

WASHINGTON, D.C. In addition to decent, safe, and affordable, Community Preservation and Development Corp. (CPDC) also wanted to make Wheeler Terrace Apartments healthy and green for its residents.

The redevelopment began in 2006 when the Wheeler Tenant Association exercised its right to purchase the property to ensure its preservation as affordable housing. It transferred its ownership and development rights to CPDC, which received approval to renew the existing Sec. 8 contract for an additional 20 years.

CPDC's first green step was a design that preserved the buildings, which were built as veterans housing in 1947, and brought them into the 21st century. When construction began in August 2008, the developer installed a geothermal system, which provides heat and hot water, making it the first affordable housing community in Washington, D.C., and the first Sec. 8 development in the nation to have one.

Mark James, real estate development officer for CPDC, says the ground-source heat pumps provide major savings. “This is a new option for other developers to think about. Wheeler stands as an example of what can be done.”

Other renovations included an energy-efficient white roof, bathroom and kitchen upgrades, and increasing the units from 112 to 116.

Also, after conducting a resident- needs assessment in 2007, CPDC confirmed a large number of asthma and bronchial cases. The developer received a Department of Housing and Urban Development Healthy Homes grant and partnered with the National Center for Healthy Housing to install a rooftop fresh air supply system. A Green Opportunities Center and a variety of resident programs also will help to educate and engage the residents about green living.

Once a former crime hot spot, the $32.9 million redevelopment also added security personnel and monitored cameras to address security concerns. —Christine Serlin


Developer: Manske & Associates, LLC

Major Funders: Midwest Housing Equity Group, Inc.; Kansas Housing Resources Corp.; Federal Home Loan Bank of Topeka; First National Bank of Hutchinson; Kiowa County Housing Authority


Developer: Wakeland Housing & Development Corp.

Major Funders: RED Capital Group; California Community Reinvestment Corp.; City of Chula Vista Redevelopment Agency; California Energy Commission


Developer: Colorado Coalition for the Homeless

Major Funders: Enterprise Community Investment, Inc.; JPMorgan Chase; City of Denver; State of Colorado; Department of Housing and Urban Development; Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago with Chase


Developer: Community Preservation and Development Corp.

Major Funders: District of Columbia Housing Finance Agency; District of Columbia Department of Housing and Community Development; PNC Bank; Union Bank; Federal Home Loan Bank of Pittsburgh with PNC; Enterprise Community Partners, Inc.