High Performance Building: Project Highlight

By Aliza Heeren, Marketing and High Performance Building Fellow

Photo courtesy of Valley CDC http://valleycdc.com/affordable-housing-development/

CET’s High Performance Building team works with many different builders, contractors and nonprofits to help each make their new construction projects more energy efficient through HERS ratings, plan review, diagnostic testing, and more. Recently CET’s building scientist, Mark Newey, has been working with Valley CDC on the redevelopment of the former Northampton lumber yard into a four-story, 55-unit affordable housing property.

The Valley CDC is a nonprofit organization that works to empower low and moderate income communities to improve the quality of their lives through the development of affordable housing, providing economic opportunities, and encouraging community leadership.

We spoke briefly with Laura Baker, a Project Manager at Valley CDC who is working with Mark, about their most recent redevelopment project in Northampton. Baker emphasized that at Valley CDC “we feel it is important to work with green building practices to create healthy environments for occupants, and also to have the operating costs for the building be as efficient as possible.” CET’s home energy raters agree with Laura’s strategy to focus on energy efficiency across affordable housing developments, as higher efficiency buildings often result in lower living costs for residents.

Throughout this project Laura Baker and CET energy rater, Mark Newey, are working together to tackle energy efficiency options for this new development. Baker commented: “Mark was able to provide a plan review in the plan development stage and that allowed us to change our plans to create a more efficient building, and to meet the required standard for HERS ratings in Stretch Code towns.”  Since the original building plan was drafted two years ago, long before the new energy code was in place, “Mark guided the assessment and revision so that we would end up with a building that would comply,” said Baker.

Valley CDC strives for energy efficiency in all of their affordable housing new construction projects. This repeated commitment to energy efficiency has allowed them to grow and learn from each project and develop a solid approach to building efficiency multi-family units. “We put most of our resources into the building envelope, to make sure it is as tight as it can be. And then we look at air quality and strive to have a balance between those two,” said Baker.

This project is just a small part of the work that CET’s High Performance Building Team does. They are currently working with two other local CDCs, the Worcester East Side CDC and Hilltown CDC to provide HERS ratings, and they work with many other nonprofits and developers across New England.

For more information on how CET’s High Performance Building Team can help your next project, contact Peggy MacLeod at 413-586-7350 x226.

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