HUD energy study

W8 UPDATE / 28 October 2012

WORKSHOP8 and Sustainably Built co-author white paper for HUD
“Beyond IECC 2009 Paisano Green Community”

WORKSHOP8’s high profile Paisan Green Community project, has been presented at several conferences across the US, most notably at HUD’s Going Green: Intelligent Investment for Public Housing conference in Boston in July 2012.

To disseminate green design best practices to housing authorities around the country, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is assembling a website with case studies of energy efficiency programs implemented by public housing authorities from around the country. At HUD’s request, WORKSHOP8 and Sustainably Built prepared a white paper outlining the best practices in delivering sustainability and green design in affordable housing.

The 13-page white paper describes the energy efficiency strategies—both passive and active—that are included in the project. Sustainably Built put together a comparison of the building design versus the IECC 2009 code requirement and modeled the energy consumption of a typical one bedroom unit as built at Paisano Green Community versus a unit built to base code standards. The difference was striking:

  • Anticipated annual energy consumption for a unit built to IECC code standards: $882/year
  • Modeled annual energy consumption for the same unit built to the standards at Paisano Green Community: $587/year
  • Modeled annual energy consumption for the same unit including renewable energy systems at Paisano Green Community: $191/year

Because the document was prepared just as the structures were completed and being occupied we didn’t have actual energy consumption data to compare to our model. However, Sustainably Built had final blower door tests and HERS scores and provided that information as part of the document. As the graphic shows, we came close to achieving all of the modeled HERS scores. We had difficulty with the central units where we had some air leakage between units through party walls but found that this was offset by some of the end units where we did better than planned.

Though federal funding was critical for Paisano to achieve NetZero status, it is worth noting that energy reductions of 40-50% can be achieved without renewables, while increasing the comfort and health of the occupants and the durability of the buildings. Additionally, the buildings can be designed and pre-wired for future solar photovoltaics at minimal extra cost.

Evaluating total lifetime costs of a project is critical to proper valuation of energy efficiency measures, rather than just considering first costs.

Recently we’ve started tracking actual energy consumption data and find that the units are performing better than expected! Current readings of the net meter for the flats units points towards an annual energy cost of less than $30/unit. More on that in a future blog post!

jv DeSousa
architect / founding partner