When a New Jersey United Cerebral Palsy affiliate first conceived the idea of an affordable housing community for people with disabilities, the vision was simple: conventional wooden structures heated and cooled by standard packaged terminal air conditioner systems (PTACs).
By the time the community welcomed its first residents at the end of 2007, the design had evolved to comprise a smart and energy-efficient HVAC system with innovative elements of sustainable design, making it one of the most outstanding examples of green development in the state.
Today, The Meadows at Oldwick (developed by the not-for-profit United Cerebral Palsy of Northern, Central, and Southern New Jersey) exceeds LEED Gold standards with its on-site, solar-powered energy production, which supplies residents’ energy needs; its thermal Insulating Concrete Form (ICF) construction; and its inverter heat pump system (manufactured by Daikin AC) that is thus far 54 percent more energy efficient than the standard set by the latest International Energy Conservation Code.
“By the time our team hung its last window shade and opened the doors of this community, it had become a prototype of green development for other low-income, affordable-housing projects,” said Peter Ypsilantis of Integrated Green Technologies (IGT) Inc., who served as construction manager/builder on the project. IGT had been contacted by Tim McCorry of the architectural firm of Kaplan, Gaunt & DeSantis, to help transform the design of the community located in Tewksbury Township into a model of sustainable development.
“One of the first things we did after deciding to go with ICF construction was to revamp the HVAC system design,” said Ypsilantis. At its core is a Variable Refrigerant Volume® (VRV) system whose built-in intelligence helps provide temperature control in every room. “This was very instrumental in our goal to conserve energy,” he said.
SITE SPECSThe Meadows at Oldwick is a single-story structure covering about 20 percent of a 2.5-acre site, with 18 apartments, 11 of which are one-bedroom units (the others are two-bedroom units).
The development-design-build team of Ypsilantis, McCorry, and Brad Kennedy (Housing Development manager for United Cerebral Palsy), decided to incorporate the heat pump system into the design for a number of reasons (its operating costs, especially under part-load conditions; low noise levels; and its ability to deliver adequate heat in below-freezing temperatures).
A mix of equipment specified for the project included 11 18,000-Btuh outdoor units for the one-bedroom homes. Each is connected to two indoor, wall-mounted, CTXS fancoil units individually controlled by wireless remotes.
“Having temperature control of each room is essential to Energy Star certification, which was a credential mandated by the government funding we received,” Ypsilantis said. He worked with HVAC contractor R.J. Groner Inc. to complete the installation, which also included seven 36,000-Btuh VRV-S heat pumps for the two-bedroom apartment units, each of which was connected to three wall-mounted fancoil units in the space.
“The variable refrigerant configuration automatically sizes the system to exactly what is needed, which was another benefit to the community and its goal of sustainability,” Ypsilantis said.
R.J. Groner field supervisor Matt Eisley said he has worked with variable refrigerant flow technology since it was introduced. “Our customers really like not having window air conditioners, the quiet operation [as low as 28 decibels], and the ability to zone each room,” Eisley said. “The installation of the system went very well.” The REFNET™ copper piping system, used to optimize refrigerant flow, was easier to install than standard T-joints and headers, he said.
DEEP GREENYpsilantis said he already knew the community he helped create was truly an innovative affordable housing development; but a prestigious award from New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine made it official.
Each year, the New Jersey Housing & Mortgage Finance Agency honors organizations at the Governor’s Conference on Housing and Community Development for investing in communities and providing quality affordable housing in New Jersey. In 2008, the Governor’s Excellence in Housing Awards chose the United Cerebral Palsy of Northern, Central, and Southern New Jersey for The Meadows at Oldwick for its Outstanding Green/Sustainable Development Award.
The 18-unit multi-family supportive housing apartment complex for individuals with special needs incorporated a wide variety of green features in construction that helped earn the award. “We were proud to be able to let other organizations learn about our affordable project and how they can achieve the same level of energy efficiency in their new facilities,” said Ypsilantis.
Publication date: 04/27/2009