How the PHIUS-Certified CreekView Apartment Development Is Changing the Face of Affordable Housing in New York
CreekView Apartments at Woodland Park, which was completed in spring 2019, is built on a park-like, 30-acre parcel of land in Canandaigua, NY. In addition to access to ample green space, residents benefit from close proximity to child and health care services, grocery stores and retail centers, sports and entertainment options, a community college, and high-quality public schools. These services and benefits, as well as the thoughtfully chosen location, are all part of a new era of affordable housing designed to holistically support residents’ daily life—not just put a roof over their heads.
Even more innovative is the property’s use of industry-leading passive house building principles. As the first project with New York State Homes and Community Renewal funding to earn passive house certification, CreekView is also the first affordable passive house development outside of New York City’s five boroughs. The property’s design conforms to the Passive House Institute (PHIUS) certification program, a stringent set of guidelines that represents the cutting edge of green construction. This means lower utility bills and more comfortable living for the families moving in.
The property was developed by Baldwin Real Estate Development Corp which is a DiMarco Group company, built by DiMarco Constructors, designed by Glasow Architecture LLP, with Sustainable Comfort, Inc serving as the Passive House consultant. CreekView Apartments received housing tax credits from the state and a permanent loan from Community Preservation Corp., with additional financing provided by KeyBank, NYS HCR Housing Trust Fund Company and KeyBank’s Community Development Corp.
After a multiyear collaboration between the design team and funding agencies to meet construction, certification, design, and budget challenges, CreekView Apartments is now complete: a durable, energy-efficient, and healthy living space that is helping define the future of affordable housing.
A Replicable Model for Sustainable and Affordable Housing
The $20 million CreekView Apartments community is the first phase in a larger development planned for the property. Phase I consists of twelve two-story buildings, each containing eight apartments of varying sizes (one-, two-, and three-bedrooms), providing homes for 96 income-eligible families and individuals. All apartments have private entries and access to the outdoors via a patio or balcony, and lower-level units are either ADA-accessible or -adaptable to provide healthy housing opportunities for people with disabilities.
The affordable housing community is being developed under Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s $20 billion, five-year plan to create or preserve more than 100,000 affordable homes and 6,000 supportive housing units for vulnerable populations.
“The Town of Canandaigua, has fully embraced this multi-phased project from the start,” says John DiMarco II, President and Chief Operating Officer of DiMarco Group and Chief Executive Officer of Baldwin Real Estate Corp.
He points out that the project helps not only the income-eligible residents who will live there, but also the town at large: “The project will continue to help achieve the town’s goals of providing safe, decent, and affordable housing. Our CreekView residents have and will continue to fill the service and labor workforce needs of this strong and growing community.”
The green building consultant Sustainable Comfort Inc. has been involved in the project since October 2017, when the design was submitted to New York State Homes and Community Renewal (HCR).
“Getting involved early is critical to the overall success of the project. The entire team took on a large challenge , and we are proud to be involved in one of the first passive house developments in New York. We hope it will be the first of many, as a replicable model that not only makes sustainable housing affordable but also sturdy enough to last hundreds of years,” says James Moriarty, Vice President of Sustainable Comfort.
Bringing Passive House Building Standards to Life at CreekView
PHIUS, the certifying body for passive house building, upholds the most-rigorous green building standards in the nation. Requirements for superior insulation and energy-efficient HVAC and appliances mean that PHIUS-certified buildings typically use 80% less energy for heating and cooling than a code standard home. This is exciting for New York’s affordable housing stakeholders because it provides the opportunity to lower tenants’ utility bills while creating a comfortable living space with a small environmental footprint. Achieving this stringent certification required close collaboration between Sustainable Comfort, Baldwin Real Estate Development Corp/DiMarco Group, DiMarco Constructors and Glasow Architecture.
“It was very much an integrative process to help them achieve the necessary certifications. As green building consultants, we knew that educating everyone working on the project about PHIUS was important to reach the finish line,” says Chris Straile, Director of Operations at Sustainable Comfort.
For Baldwin Real Estate, it was important to partner with an energy consultant that was not only knowledgeable about PHIUS certification, but also able to think creatively, resolve problems positively, and communicate clearly.
“Under Sustainable Comfort’s guidance and support, as well as the design, engineering, and construction teams of Glasow Architecture, EC4B and DiMarco Constructors, we overcame challenges along the way and successfully achieved Passive House certification for CreekView Apartments Phase I,” said Gregg Firster, VP of Baldwin Real Estate.
- PHIUS+ 2015
- Energy Star Certified Homes v3.1
- DoE Zero Energy Ready Homes
- EPA Indoor airPLUS v.1
- NYSERDA Low-Rise New Construction Program
The multitude of green certifications were achieved through a variety of innovative methods. Most units are all-electric, so there is minimal natural gas setup needed. The buildings are effectively air-tight, with fresh air brought in through balanced heat recovery ventilation, saving on heating and cooling costs. Wall, roof, and under-slab insulation, triple pane windows, and ductless mini-split heat pumps further aid the building’s energy efficiency.
Dan Glasow, Principal and Project Architect of Glasow Architecture, is proud of the outcome, which blends form and function to create beautifully designed homes that respond to tenants’ needs. The team is already looking forward to integrating its learnings into the next phase.
“We wanted to introduce construction methods that explore how to economically meet PHIUS requirements, and we see this project as a model to make the proposed second phase even more energy-efficient and economical,” says Glasow.
The CreekView affordable housing community is expected to receive industry awards in the coming year. The site is hosting a Northeast Sustainable Energy Association (NESEA) Pro Tour on October 25, 2019, an accredited tour of high-performance buildings. The buildings will serve as an example for the green housing industry, both in New York and on the national stage.
A Holistic Approach to Affordable Housing
Green construction isn’t good just for the environment, but also for residents and the community. CreekView is proving that affordable housing can also be healthy, pleasant, and enjoyable to inhabit for families and individuals at all income levels. Built in a peaceful neighborhood within the well-regarded Canandaigua Central School District, the project marks a new era in affordable housing.
CreekView residents will enjoy the exclusive use of a centrally located community building that houses a multipurpose room with a full kitchen, fitness room, computer lab, and laundry facility. Outside amenities will include an accessible playground, a picnic area with grills, and walking trails. Other perks include energy-efficient appliances, walk-in closets, washer and dryer hook-ups in each unit, storage space, off-street parking, and an after-hours emergency maintenance contact.
“This project allows individuals with lower incomes to afford to put their kids in good school districts and safe neighborhoods,” says Straile. “We’re extremely proud to be a part of this project and to give financial and social opportunities to families, no matter their income level.”
CreekView Apartments is evidence that with the right partners, developers can build housing with superior comfort, safety, and lifestyle benefits, all on an affordable housing budget. Sustainable housing can truly be for everyone.
Jump-Starting Affordable Housing’s Green Future
With Phase I completed, the team is now focused on taking the concept of energy efficient housing to the next level. The next steps for the CreekView complex include plans for a Phase II which includes an additional 12 buildings, with sights on expanding the energy efficient design to include full Net-Zero housing to produce as much energy as is used.
The concept for Phase II is still under development, but is looking to take the building performance even further with the same level of superior insulation and air tightness. The mechanical system plan will be simplified by providing central equipment and taking advantage of ground source heat pump technology for heating, cooling, and hot water heating to greatly increase the efficiency of the mechanical systems. The reduced energy load of the building can then be offset by roof mounted solar PV panels to produce the energy needs of the building to achieve Net-Zero.
By taking on the Passive House standard of Phase I, the team is well prepared to take on the next step to achieve Net-Zero. “We think there’s a high level of buildability and replicability with this type of project because of the common building materials and strategies employed,” says Straile.
With perks for developers, residents, and the state of New York, passive housing projects like CreekView represent a huge improvement in affordable housing and for the residents it benefits. The resulting complex—energy-efficient, aesthetically pleasing, and with improved air quality and living conditions for residents — shows that the benefits are not just environmental, but human.
Read more about Sustainable Comforts recently completed or ongoing projects.