Gold Dust Overview - Homes Across America Search Return Gold Dust Overview - Homes Across America Search Return

Gold Dust











(This house reported 45 resource efficient features.
Percentages above indicate the distribution of features and total 100%)


  • To use a centrally located urban infill lot for a low income, multi-family housing complex that supported people and families who do not own cars.
  • To use sustainable construction and renewable energy sources in ways that measurably reduce the amount of money needed for building maintenance and operation.
  • To build a residential complex that complements this urban neighborhood of enhancing livability for those who prefer a community-based living and working experience. (See Special Information section below for details.)
The northeast corner of the Gold Dust, facing the woonerf and adjacent to the historic Stensrud Building.


  • Location: Missoula, Montana
  • Climate Zone: Cold
  • Type of Project: New Construction
  • Home Completed: 2003
  • Setting: urban
  • Energy Source: - solar - natural gas - grid electric
  • Layout: Multi-Family; 2 bedroom; No garage
  • Lot Size: 3 acre
  • Square Footage: 17130
  • Sales Market: Low-income
  • Cost/Square Foot: Unknown


Betsy Hands, Executive Director
- Developer - Builder - Homeowner

Phone: 406-532-4663
Fax: 406-541-0239


As a multi-family apartment complex, the Gold Dust is an excellent example of cooperation, resource efficient construction, community building, and neighborhood preservation. A lot of work went into creating a long lasting, low-income housing project that is not only affordable for residents - in terms of rent and utilities - but also uses high quality materials and appliances in ways to help assure the building will not incur excessive maintenance costs during its life.

The City of Missoula, for example, agreed to let the Gold Dust reduce the number of parking spaces usually required for a complex of this size because a certain number of residents are contractually obligated to refrain from owning a car.

The architect, MacArthur, Means, & Wells Architects and Garden City Builders worked closely together and with the staff of homeWORD to design and build an intelligent, resource efficient home.

Community members gave input on what they would like to see, and current neighborhood residents and business owners had the chance to provide input into the final plans before construction started. Northwestern Energy was also instrumental in supporting the project, and providing guidance for tying the photovoltaic system into the electrical grid.


Named after the hotel that occupied the same lot in the early 1900s, the Gold Dust is a multi-family complex. The square footage above is for the entire housing complex, which consists of one 1-bedroom unit, 14 2-bedroom units, and 3 three-bedroom units. Included in the square footage are two alley apartments, separate from the main complex, a laundry facility, workshop (many residents are artists) and a community room available to neighborhood residents. These features fit into the goal of a residential complex that complements this urban neighborhood of enhancing livability for those who prefer a community-based living and working experience.

Through an intensive two-day design charrette at the beginning of the project, neighbors, community members, city planners, and architects worked together to brainstorm innovative solutions to building the Gold Dust. The site design of the Gold Dust incorporates many elements of the surrounding neighborhood. The main three-story building is modeled after the historic industrial character of the Northside Neighborhood, while the single story buildings at the back of the lot blend into housing that exists directly north of the site.

To assure proper functioning and maintenance of the units, homeWORD contracts with Bounty Property Management. The mangement agency does monthly and quarterly inspections on units and fixtures. homeWORD also has a mechanical maintenance contract with Garden City Plumbing & Heating, which installed the system as well). Garden City will inspect all the systems and perform maintenance quarterly.

For more information, visit the website at http://www.homeword.org/

The Gold Dust fits in well with the existing neighborhood.

One of the alley units near the back of the lot.

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