Zuni Housing Rehabilitation Project Earns LEED for Homes Silver Certification

LEED Certified Zuni Housing, Zuni, New Mexico Green Insight Green Building Consultants

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.

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