Lukachukai Community School Will Open With LEED Certification

The brand new Lukachukai Community School will open on a 44-acre site nestled in the beautiful Chuska mountain range of Lukachukai, Arizona. This K-8 school will feature a student dormitory, bus maintenance facility, community fire station, and staff housing to help retain talented teachers.

The new school will accommodate 400 students with a mission to provide a solid comprehensive curriculum, enrichment, and support for all learners including accelerated learners, English language learners, and students with disabilities.

The Project

With a mission to not only reflect but respect the culture of the Navajo people, DPS Architecture worked thoroughly within the guidelines of the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) to ensure the design, materials, and sustainability of the new school were never in question.

School board members, school staff, and cultural experts collaborated with the design team on the site location, layout, and inter-relationship of the building’s facilities to ensure the building met the goals of all stakeholders.

The design team at DPS worked with Nez FCI for the construction of the project. This Navaho-owned construction company hired over 400 workers for the project, 90% of which were members of the Navajo Nation.

Work on the project began in January 2020 and is expected to be completed in summer 2022 in time for the 2022-2023 school year.

The Finished Product

The completed project will not only be a school building, but it will be a complex to serve both school and community needs. The project comes complete with multiple age-appropriate play areas to serve the wide developmental ranges of its students.

The entire complex is both student and community-minded in its design. The complex will feature several multipurpose athletic fields that will serve not only the school but the community at large.

The complex also features 19 staff housing units to help with the retention of teachers as well as a maintenance facility for school buses to take care of immediate repairs. The complex will also house a firetruck facility which will assist the community in emergency response situations.

This state-of-the-art facility was also designed and built with sustainability in mind. As such, the Lukachukai Community School will open for the new school year with LEED Silver certification. In all, the new school complex will give the Navajo nation a 21st-century learning environment that strives to respect the past.

Do you want to see how the Green Insight team can find the perfect solution for your sustainable living project?

If so, contact us today. One of our team members will be in touch to discuss your project and your goals while showing you how Green Insight can help you with both.

Zuni Housing Rehabilitation Project Earns LEED for Homes Silver Certification

The Native American tribal housing entity Zuni Housing Authority owns and maintains dozens of homes for tribal members in the small rural community of Black Rock, NM. With a mission to expand housing solutions and economic opportunities for the Ashiwi people and its future generations, Zuni Housing Authority offers a variety of services to help secure the future for homebuyers.

One of their latest projects was devoted to rehabilitating dozens of homes while reducing the carbon footprint every step of the way.

The Project

In collaboration with Zuni Construction Services, this project entailed gutting and rehabilitating 37 single-family attached homes spread over 12 buildings. 

This was just the first in multiple rehabilitations and new constructions that the Zuni Housing Authority has certified in the LEED for Homes program. 

The Challenges

The biggest challenge with this project was introducing new concepts from the LEED for Homes rating system that were completely unfamiliar to both the developer and the local and native construction teams. Like most developers and contractors who do not have experience with green building, they were more used to using methods and designs that had worked for them in the past. 

However, the Energy Ratings required everything from performance testing and thermal bypass air sealing requirements to outdoor water credits in a national rating system that is not necessarily conducive to the Black Rock climate. Due to these new methods and requirements, the team faced turning their own tried and true methods upside down in order to meet certification requirements. Despite this challenge, however, all stakeholders remained committed to their goal of meeting these certification requirements successfully.

In addition to the challenge of facing new methods, the team also faced various items that failed inspection in initial units. These problems included thermal bypass issues at bay windows and fan ventilation control issues among other things.

Project Solutions

Our first step in assisting the architect and Zuni Housing Authority with their goals was educating the entire team on challenges they may face during the rehabilitation process that would cause them low scores on the LEED for Homes rating system. Another aspect of our work included training team members onsite on effective air-sealing techniques to ensure successful air tightness (AKA: blower door) test results.

To anticipate required inspections and to ensure none were missed, we worked closely with the team by participating in monthly and sometimes weekly project team calls to get everyone aligned so that the project could stay on track. Best of all, Zuni Construction Services was very responsive to issues that would need to be addressed. With their complete buy-in to the program, the crew was able to conduct timely fixes and flexible solutions for every issue they encountered

The Finished Product

Through Green Insight’s collaboration with Zuni Housing Authority and Zuni Construction Services, the entire team was able to adapt their work to the needs of the project in order to achieve their goal. In the end, this gut and rehabilitation project reached its goal of earning Silver certification in the LEED for Homes rating system.

Are you ready to see how Green Insight can find the perfect solution for your sustainable living project?

If so, contact us today. We would love to discuss your project and your goals while showing you how Green Insight can help you achieve green building success. Get in touch

Green Community Villa Alegre Provides Affordable Green Housing in Santa Fe

Located just blocks from Santa Fe’s historic plaza, Villa Alegre is proud to offer its first 111 affordable units that have earned the LEED for Homes Platinum certification. These units are part of phases 1 and 2 of construction and offer beautiful apartment homes as well as homes for seniors complete with an on-site Service Coordinator and a professional management team.

Developed by the Santa Fe Civic Housing Authority, Villa Alegre reflects the city’s commitment to creating beautiful homes and luxury living experiences while lessening the carbon footprint during construction and beyond.

The Project

Breaking ground in June 2010, this project received the highest LEED rating, Platinum, in November 2011. Santa Fe Civic Housing Authority collaborated with Pavilion Construction to create 44 one and two-story buildings that have from 2 to 6 units in each building.

The first phase of the project consisted of 60 family units and a community center. Phase 2 incorporated 50 senior housing units into the community, one caretaker’s unit and another community center.

Green Insight worked extensively with the developer and contractor on the following aspects of the project

  • Enterprise Green Communities
  • LEED for Homes credit verification
  • Testing and QAD review during the construction phase
  • Energy efficiency recommendations
  • Building material assessments
  • Review of construction documents
  • Specifications and project submittals

“LEED gave us better plans, better processes, and better quality at minimal additional costs to the project.”

– Ed Romero, Executive Director of the Santa Fe Civic Housing Authority

Project Challenges

All stakeholders had a common goal: to create a sustainable building project with the smallest possible environmental footprint. However, not all stakeholders had the same thoughts when it came to how to achieve this level of sustainability.

Given Santa Fe’s climate as a high desert environment with less than 12 inches of rain a year, it was determined that our focus needed to be on energy and water efficiency. This focus would allow us to not only make the best use of the grant funding that was obtained, but it would help us reach our goals the best.

Gaining community support for this project was vital to the success of the project overall. The City of Santa Fe requires a neighborhood meeting when a development of this magnitude is proposed in its city limits. We really wanted to listen to the community members, and we conducted several meetings beyond the city’s requirements.

Our team worked with the project team to advise them on how to achieve their green building goals, facilitating design charrettes and oversight meetings that included the Mayor of Santa Fe, City Council Members, and City Employees among other stakeholders.

Project Solutions

To achieve our goals of focusing on energy efficiency, the project relied heavily on reducing energy by incorporating a geothermal exchange system with ground source heat pumps and a 240-kilowatt photovoltaic system. Energy efficiency is also achieved through ENERGY STAR windows, high-efficiency lighting fixtures, compact fluorescent bulbs, and high-density blown insulation.

All units in the project achieved a 32 or better Home Energy Rating System (HERS) index score and will be ENERGY STAR qualified thanks to incorporating energy-saving technologies such as those listed above as well as instantaneous water heaters, programmable thermostats, high-efficiency furnaces, and air conditioners and mechanical ventilation that enhance indoor air quality.

The Finished Product

All of the focus on energy and water efficiency during construction resulted in the desirable Platinum LEED for Homes certification as well as qualifying for the New Mexico Sustainable Building Tax Credit in Phase 1 and Phase 2 totaling more than $800,000 combined. Additionally, most of Villa Alegre’s units exceeded the 2030 challenge.

The Villa Alegre has not only rehabilitated that area of downtown Santa Fe, but thanks to all green initiatives used in design and construction, all renters are utility bill free.

According to Ed Romero, Executive Director of the Santa Fe Civic Housing Authority, “LEED gave us better plans, better processes, and better quality at minimal additional costs to the project.”

Learn more in our Villa Alegre case study.

Want to find the perfect solution for your sustainable living project?

If so, contact us today. We would love to discuss your project and your goals while showing you how Green Insight can help you achieve green building success. Get in touch

Please contact the Santa Fe Civic Housing Authority for leasing information at 505-470-9423.

Fort Collins Townhomes Receive LEED Gold Certification

The city of Fort Collins is often recognized as one of the nation’s most innovative cities in everything from technology to target industries. One of the areas of innovation where Fort Collins is most committed is in green building and residential code compliance.

Fort Collins is focused on designing and constructing buildings that have an eye on modern needs while keeping an eye on the future by reducing the environmental impact that every aspect of building will have. According to the city, “A well-designed building should create a healthy, productive environment for its occupants while lessening the demand for energy and resources.”

Fort Collins builders take their commitment to the environment seriously, and so do we. In this article, we will discuss a recent project we were involved in that created townhomes that were good for residents and good for the environment: Townhomes on Vine.

Project Details

The Townhomes on Vine project consisted of building 49 market-rate townhomes that would provide all the modern amenities homeowners are looking for while still maintaining a commitment to reducing the environmental impact of building them.

These townhomes were the first of two phases of development for this property by developer Old Town Construction, Inc. The second phase will consist of detached single-family homes.

Green Insight worked with developers to make this project LEED® for Homes Gold. Our involvement included:

  • LEED for Homes credit verification
  • Testing during construction and QAD review
  • Energy efficiency recommendations
  • Building material assessments
  • Review of construction documents
  • Specifications and review of project submittals

By partnering with us, Old Town Construction, Inc. had assistance every step of the way to ensure their project qualified for LEED for Homes Gold.

Project Challenges

As with any construction project, there are challenges that need to be addressed along the way. Green building is certainly not the exception.

For this project, one of our challenges (and a challenge we encounter in most developers’ and/or contractors’ first certification) is general unfamiliarity with the program requirements to become LEED for Homes certified.

One thing in this developer’s favor was that Fort Collins residential codes are so strict that following them gets a project pretty close to LEED for Homes Silver level certification on their own. For this project, a few modifications were made to help meet the LEED prerequisites at a low additional cost.

The learning curve when it comes to requirements is a common challenge with green building projects like this. This is especially true if the developer doesn’t provide product submittals or schedule extra inspections with a partner well-versed in LEED prerequisites.

Project Solutions

It took some initial inspections for all stakeholders to be comfortable with the LEED requirements, but our field staff was able to coach the developer through all of them. By the end of the construction, the LEED requirements were just part of regular procedures.

The developer’s team was also onboarded on the use of Green Insight’s online platform Project Insight™, an invaluable tool when it comes to documenting compliance with all the LEED prerequisites and credits.

With these regular inspections and use of Project Insight, the Townhomes on Vine project reached its goal of becoming LEED for Homes Gold Certified and all townhomes have already been pre-sold.

With the successful completion of Phase 1, we anticipate Phase 2 to be even more streamlined and successful.

The Finished Product

The Townhomes on Vine are not the drafty, energy-wasting townhomes that have been on the market for decades. These townhomes have an ENERGY STAR rating of over 80 and HERS scores in the low 50s. What do these scores mean, exactly? These townhomes are quite a bit more energy efficient than the average resale home on the market – they have an average annual utility savings of around $900 per townhome compared to the average home in the U.S.

How was this accomplished? For starters, the insulation and construction techniques used on these townhomes were vastly improved from techniques used only a decade ago. These techniques and their results not only create a more environmentally friendly construction process, but they also save the homeowner money in the long run.

By being LEED Gold Certified, these townhomes not only boast the best in modern construction techniques, but the use of tankless hot water heaters, energy-efficient furnaces, and LED lighting just confirm our commitment to building modern homes with an emphasis on reducing environmental impact for the long run.

Partner with Green Insight for your green building success

If you’re a developer or contractor, you have enough on your plate logistically without adding the robust requirements needed to earn any green building certification. Partnering with Green Insight gives you the know-how when it comes to codes in Fort Collins and beyond.

Green Insight can also help you develop practices that embed practices that will make the entire certification process streamlined.

If you’re ready to talk to one of our team about how we can help you build green, contact us today to discuss your project and your goals.