LEED Platinum 2011
LEED gave us better plans, better processes and better quality at minimal additional costs to the project. The major focus defined in the design charrettes was energy and water efficiency: Water because we have so little water and energy because we have so many opportunities.
Santa Fe Civic Housing Authority completed the first 111 affordable LEED for Homes units in the Santa Fe area: Villa Alegre Phase 1 and 2. The project broke ground in June of 2010 and achieved LEED Platinum certification in November of 2011. The project is a single-family attached (townhouse) project consisting of 44 one- and two-story buildings that have between two and six units each. Phase 1 of the project consists of 60 family units plus a community center; phase 2 consists of 50 senior housing units, one caretakers' unit, and a community center.
"After reviewing the ARRA grant requirements and modifications made by the development team, we found value in LEED certification as it related to transforming our plans into the greenest and most sustainable project possible within our budget. LEED gave us better plans, better processes and better quality at minimal additional costs to the project ," said Ed Romero, Executive Director of the housing authority.
Villa Alegre is located at 851 and 871 West Alameda Street, less than three-quarters of a mile from the Santa Fe Plaza, a national historical landmark on the National Register of Historic Places. This infill project had to adhere to historic district requirements to preserve the City's cultural and historical significance. The architect strived to integrate the project into the historical neighborhood fabric and build harmony with the community.
Also high on the architect's list of goals was quality designed and constructed units (especially within the Low Income Housing standard) and maximizing housing opportunities in the Santa Fe historic downtown area. The project team succeeded in making 97 of the 111 units affordable. Mike Duty stated, "We wanted everyone to have a ground floor experience through entry portals and backyard courts. Also, it was important for everyone to have a visual and physical connection to the landscaped common spaces. This does not occur on many housing projects."
The project focuses heavily on reducing energy use by incorporating a geothermal exchange system with ground-source heat pumps and a 240-kilowatt photovoltaic system. The units also feature ENERGY STAR windows, high-efficiency lighting fixtures, compact fluorescent bulbs, and high-density, blown insulation. Other energy efficiency upgrades include instantaneous water heaters, programmable thermostats, high-efficiency furnaces and air conditioners, and mechanical ventilation to enhance the indoor air quality. As a result of incorporating energy-saving products and technologies, all of the units in this project have achieved a 42 or better Home Energy Rating System (HERS) index score and will be ENERGY STAR qualified, and many units will exceed the 2030 Challenge.
It was important to the project team and the community to have a water-efficient project. Located in the arid high desert of New Mexico, Villa Alegre only receives an average of 14 inches of rain a year. The project team focused on reducing water use with design goals of 61% indoor water savings and approximately 65% exterior water savings.
The senior side of the project scores an impressive Walk Score of 86; the family side scores 78. There are 286 amenities within a one-mile radius. These amenities range from public transportation, DeVargas Mall, museums, and the Santa Fe Plaza. The plaza was the original center of town and is still the "heart of Santa Fe." The plaza has numerous annual events such as Spanish and Santa Fe Indian Markets, Fiestas de Santa Fe, and Santa Fe Bandstand. The project started as a demolition/disposition of 104 public housing units that were deemed insufficient to bring up to current building standards.