A soon-to-be LEED-certified public housing project in Georgia encompasses a variety of sustainable approaches--including low-VOC finishes, solar thermal hot water heaters, and WaterSense-certified toilets--to enhance residents’ comfort and health while keeping operating costs and utility bills low.
The resource-efficient features of the 10-unit Village Green in Rome, Ga., help tenants save money, says Sandra Hudson, Northwest Georgia Housing Authority (NWGHA) executive director. “Our residents struggle to pay their utility bills, so living in a green community will help by reducing their expenses.”
The project, which is pending LEED-Silver certification, includes eight 1,450-square-foot, two-story walk-up townhouses with three bedrooms and two baths each; and two 1,150-square-foot, two-bedroom stacked flats, one of which meets ADA accessibility standards. Rent is based on residents’ income and ranges from $252 to $669 a month.
Built by Alpharetta, Ga.-based Renaissance Builders, Village Green was primarily funded by an American Recovery and Reinvestment Act competitive grant of $1.7 million from HUD. The NWGHA provided an additional $350,000 from its annual operating budget for improvements to the site.
Other sustainable design strategies and products include:
• A north-south site orientation that maximizes daylight and minimizes solar gain.
• South-facing roof monitors that provide light for the stairwells, and north-facing roof monitors that harvest daylight for the bathrooms, reducing electrical demand.
• Shading strategies such as roof overhangs and copper porch roof canopies.
• Operable, screened, low-E windows for cross ventilation.
• Spray foam insulation in the walls and roof. 
• Advanced framing techniques that minimize material waste and maximize the amount of insulation.
• Energy Star-certified lighting, ceiling fans, and appliances and low-flow water fixtures.
• Park space in the back of the building with a bioswale and retention pond featuring native, drought-tolerant landscaping.
The new development fits in well with the surrounding community, says project manager Jay Silverman of architectural firm Lord, Aeck & Sargent. The units were designed to blend with the character of the nearby historic district, with brick accents in muted colors, copper gutters and downspouts, and site wall caps to match the traditional brownstone style of surrounding homes.
The 2.5-acre site was designed to create an urban neighborhood feeling, Silverman says. Sidewalks, crosswalks, and the park connect the building its neighborhood. And although there is resident parking on either side of the building, the front is designed with parallel parking for guests, helping to emphasize the neighborhood streetscape. An elevated sidewalk, designed to meet accessibility requirements for disabled residents and guests, functions similarly to traditional neighborhood stoops.
The NWGHA has plans to add a second 10-unit apartment building to the site, says Hudson.  “We don’t have the funds for that right now, but we hope for another grant in the future to allow us to add those units.”