The other day Martin Holladay of Green Building Advisor raised the issue of the ludicrousness of "The Greenest Home In America". In fact there are really green homes being built in America, but they are not single family, and they are not private; In many cases, government agencies and non-profits can proudly stand up and say "We built it!"Leddy Matum Stacy Architects have just completed the Merritt Crossing Affordable Housing project in Oakland, California, and it is, at 62,000 square feet, only 15 times the average area of the Monster Green Homes that Martin discussed, and at $ 18,000,000, only 7.8 times the cost. Yet it accommodates 70 residential units, a community room and a community kitchen. It integrates affordable units with units that are "set-aside for seniors who are homeless or at-risk of homelessness, living with HIV/AIDS or challenged by mental illness."
Merritt Crossing is a new high-density, transit oriented development by a non-profit providing affordable apartments and services for low-income seniors in downtown Oakland. Located at the edge of Oakland’s Chinatown neighborhood near the Lake Merritt BART station, the project transforms an abandoned gas station site by an interstate highway into a new community asset. The non-institutional design combines colorful siding and panels with plant supporting wire mesh screens to compliment the neighborhood’s eclectic pan-Asian residential character.
The sustainable design is expected to achieve the highest level (Platinum) under the LEED for Homes rating system in addition to a high GreenPoint rating, Energy Star Rating and Bay Friendly landscaping certification. The building’s innovative sustainable systems include both photoelectric power and solar water heating, storm water retention, filtered ventilation, rainscreen facades and recyclable metal framing.
Getting past the green features, there are other socially critical aspects to this building:
- Friendly non-institutional design complimenting electric pan-Asian neighborhood character
- Community enhancing design to mitigate senior isolation and enhance security
- Cost effective design appropriate for publicly funded affordable housing
- Energy efficient design to control owner and residents future utility costs
- Sustainable design to reduce environmental impact of development
- Universal design to address accessibility issues for seniors
This is, in my opinion, the real definition of the green home. It's dense, it is urban, it is helping members of what has been called the Greatest Generation live dignified lives.