Housing Project Earns First Green Rating

May 26, 2008
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The Kingsbury Place project in Grand Rapids, Mich., was the first project of its kind in Michigan to receive the Green Communities certification. Local HVACR contractor Engineered Heating & Cooling worked on the project.

John Sedine is an HVACR contractor who sees green in green. The owner of Engineered Heating & Cooling recently completed work on Kingsbury Place, the first Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)-certified apartment home community. Kingsbury Place is a residential community for low-income and physically and mentally challenged individuals. The project earned itself the first “Green Communities” certification in the state of Michigan from the Enterprise Foundation. The foundation helps build affordable housing for low-income Americans by providing financing and expertise to community and housing developers.

The Green Communities Initiative was created to design and construct a combination of environmentally friendly buildings in convenient locations that avoid the problems associated with urban sprawl. In addition, objectives of Green Communities include:

• Slashing energy use by at least 30 percent. Proper insulation, energy-efficient appliances, and skylights and high-performance windows, which result in lower energy bills;

• Reducing health hazards. Green buildings use carpets, paints, wall coverings, and adhesives that emit low levels of potentially harmful volatile organic compounds, which can cause eye and lung irritation and other health problems;

• Bringing residents closer to transit and jobs. To cut down on sprawl and reduce transportation costs, Green Communities homes are located within walking distance of public transit, day care, shopping, and job opportunities.

The Green Communities criteria is aligned with the LEED Green Building Rating System® and the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), through LEED, strongly supports the Green Communities initiative. In addition, the Green Communities criteria reflect and are compatible with leading state and local green building programs. In this project, the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA) worked with USGBC and the Enterprise Foundation.

Sedine believes that not enough HVACR contractors understand LEED and its impact on the trade. “We are headed into the LEED direction,” he said. “Contractors should realize that LEED is more than 90-plus furnaces, 13 SEER condensers, and Energy Star-rated products.”

KINGSBURY PLACE

Sedine pointed to Kingsbury Place as an example of the various nuances of the LEED program. The project consists of 44 units in 10 separate buildings. The key objectives of the project were to reduce operational expenses to lower utility bills while keeping a limited construction budget in line.

One of the more unique elements of the project was the construction of a cistern used to collect rainwater, which is later used for site irrigation.

The public project was put out to bid and Engineered Heating & Cooling won the opportunity to install the HVAC systems in all of the units, a project that lasted 11 months.

“The unique part of the project was the third-party commissioning of the units,” he said. “I thought we were going to have the normal person do the commissioning, the one we are used to working with.”

The commissioning involved air balancing, duct leakage testing, and verification of the use of Energy Star products; and Sedine said the test results were some of the best ever. “We had to jump through a few hoops with this project, but it turned out well.”

Sedine suggested that contractors involved in projects like Kingsbury Place take the time to ensure that ductwork is properly sealed and that they place a stronger emphasis on air balancing.

For more information, visit www.greencommunitiesonline.org.

Publication Date: 05/26/2008

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