District of Columbia Selected for Cutting Edge Affordable Housing Project Focused on Sustainability

The District of Columbia's Department of Energy and Environment and the Department of Housing and Community Development will be participating in a "Living Building Challenge Affordable Housing Pilot Project."

“As the District of Columbia works to create more pathways to the middle class, this selection by the ILFI to participate in this pilot project highlights how cross agency collaboration can provide unique opportunities for residents,” said Mayor Muriel Bowser.  “This initiative will position the District to become a model for green affordable housing, providing low- and moderate-income residents with the opportunity to own their own sustainable homes and save money on their utility bills. The District will continue to lead by example, providing residents from every corner of the city with housing options that are affordable and environmentally responsible.”

As part of the project, DHCD and DOEE will turn a formerly vacant site in the Deanwood neighborhood into an equitable, mixed-income, and sustainable development of 10-15 townhouses with an emphasis on cutting edge environmentally-restorative design. The project aims to attain a rigorous green building performance standard certification set by the Living Building Challenge.

Over the course of the next year and a half, seven teams across the United States will work toward the goal of creating development projects that can pursue the Living Building Challenge certification. The certification focuses on net-positive energy and water construction built with nontoxic and sustainably sourced materials and have a positive impact on the environment and surrounding community.

“DHCD is delighted to work with ILFI to pursue the Living Building Challenge on our site in the historic community of Deanwood,” said Director Polly Donaldson.  “DHCD is fully committed to affordable housing that provides a safe and healthy living environment and saves residents money on their utility bills in the process. We look forward to achieving even greater levels of sustainability through this collaborative effort.”

“This pilot project will be the District’s inaugural Living Building Challenge project, while creating healthy, resilient housing for low- and moderate-income families,” said DOEE Director Tommy Wells. “The Department of Energy and Environment is focused on providing equitable access to energy efficiency and renewable energy for the District residents who need it the most.”

“I am thrilled to see the District of Columbia take as an important need as affordable housing and use the Living Building Challenge as a framework to develop regenerative, living, and healthy communities,” said Jason F. McLennan, founder of the Living Building Challenge and CEO of ILFI.

Although the District received no direct funding for this project, the technical assistance package provided by ILFI equates to hundreds of hours of documentation review, facilitation, and other technical expertise at no cost. The District will be in a cohort of other pilot projects and learn best-practices from other project teams.

This project is an outcome of a partnership between DHCD, DOEE, and the DC Living Building Challenge Collaborative–a group of local professional volunteers committed to sustainability, education and implementation of the Living Building Challenge.  20 multidisciplinary design teams proposed Living Building Challenge concepts for the Deanwood site and inspired DHCD and DOEE to explore how to implement a Living Building Challenge project.

The 2015-2016 ILFI Living Building Challenge Affordable Housing Pilot Projects include:

Deanwood Neighborhood Development
Washington, DC
Department of Housing and Community Development & Department of Energy and Environment

RurAL CAP Housing – Muldoon
Anchorage, AK
McCool Carlson Green

Liberty Lane Apartments
Redlands, CA
A Community of Friends

HopeWorks Station, Phase II
Everett, WA
HopeWorks Social Enterprises & Housing Hope

Orchard Gardens
Sunnyvale, CA
First Community Housing

Coliseum Place
Oakland, CA
David Baker Architects, Resources for Community Development and the Association for Energy Affordability

Lawson House YMCA Renovation
Chicago, IL
Farr Associates & Holsten Development

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Date Posted: 9/23/2015