Traugott Terrace Innovations: Sustainable Low-income Housing Through LEED - Homes Across America Search Return

Traugott Terrace




Goals of Innovation: To create an affordable housing facility that provides those in need with an uplifting place to live while minimizing the environmental impact of construction and operation.

Description: The goals of this project were addressed through a synergy of interested parties and available funding. The techniques and materials were common. The approach to incorporate LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) into affordable housing was not. This innovative process, as well as the sustainable housing design, evolved as the team grew and the goals of various funding organizations were incorporated into the plan.

The sustainable aspects of Traugott Terrace were funded through a number of parties wishing to see this project succeed. Seattle City Light's Built Smart program and the Seattle Office of Housing provided technical guidelines and project funding. Seattle City Light's LEED incentive program provided funding for soft costs associated with the LEED Green Building Rating System. Environmental Works provided sustainable design assistance through a grant funded initiative, called 'Sustaining Affordable Communities' aimed at non-profit agencies and affordable housing developers.

A team goal- setting workshop was conducted as a requirement of the LEED incentive funding. Participants included the design team, the developer, and representatives from the Matt Talbot Center, the Archdiocesan Housing Authority, the Seattle Office of Housing and Seattle City Light. The workshop allowed the entire team to establish goals and priorities in regards to sustainable strategies and created buy-in from all parties involved in the process. As the design evolved the team incorporated strategies that would receive a LEED certified rating, with the potential to achieve silver.

The LEED incentive funding and Environmental Works' contribution enabled the design team to conduct extensive green materials investigations, assess the means to meet LEED requirements, commit the time required for LEED documentation and promote Traugott Terrace as a case study for greening affordable housing.

Traugott Terrace is expected to be the first LEED certified affordable housing project in the country. The LEED certification process is expected to be completed by the Spring of 2004.

Obstacles: The largest obstacle to proceeding with the LEED process was taking the first step. The Seattle City Light incentive funding came with the caveat that should Traugott not, in fact, receive LEED certification the funding would need to be returned. While the City wanted assurances that the project would achieve LEED certification, the design/development team wanted assurances that the construction wouldn’t be expending resources that, in the end, would not be available. The LEED process began when it was agreed that the incentive funding would only require the team make a committed and good faith effort.

Cost Information: As this project went out for bid, concern that construction costs would be too high created the need to identify deductive alternates. In response, a deductive alternate was included to cover all LEED related items.

The entire LEED alternate came to $50,000, of which $25,000 was for the upcharge for FSC lumber. The heat recovery ventilator, a separate deductive, came in at $6,300. On this 3.75 million-dollar project the LEED items were 1.5% of the total construction budget. This included FSC certified wood, low-VOC materials, construction waste management, construction indoor air quality management, the high-reflectance roof coating, recycled content materials and all associated LEED documentation required of the contractor.

The final construction bid was under budget, allowing the project to proceed with the LEED alternate. Additionally, funding remained that allowed the design team to switch from sheet vinyl flooring to linoleum, at an extra cost of $73,270 and to upgrade to more durable windows for another $75,269 add, thereby reducing future maintenance requirements. An energy efficient gearless traction elevator was also installed at an additional cost of $57,000.

Combining the various systems and materials included in the project as ‘sustainable’ strategies (both the LEED items included in the original bid package and the ensuing upgrades) the LEED/Green items were 5% of the construction cost.

Energy modeling results project a yearly reduction of $18,389, or 27%, in utility bills. (Note that the modeling was performed to adhere to LEED requirements and assumes a base case building designed to ASHRAE 90.1 standards. Seattle energy code is stricter than ASHRAE standards.) Water bills are expected to be reduced by 39% due to the low-flow fixtures and efficient washing machines.

Additional Benefits/Drawbacks: The materials research conducted for Traugott Terrace has led to the development of a series of publicly available Green Building Materials Fact Sheets. Visit http://www.eworks.org/ for the fact sheets and other resources for sustainable design.

Additionally, work on Traugott Terrace has led to greater capacity for organizations in the Seattle area to assist in green building design. The Environmental Works office has gained great experience, which will enable it to better provide informed, sustainable design assistance. The Environmental Works standard specifications now reflect the no-cost material choices, such as fly ash and recycled content gypsum board, that can easily be incorporated into all of our projects. The Seattle Office of Housing developed a program (SeaGreen) which provides guidelines for greening affordable housing using Traugott Terrace as a model for how projects they fund could be more sustainable.

The project is providing a visible example of the benefit of greening affordable housing and the opportunity to incorporate sustainability into projects serving all members of our community.

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