Interfaith Housing Development Breaks Ground on First Large-Scale Affordable Housing Project to Be Passive House Certified in Chicago

Interfaith Housing Development Breaks Ground on First Large-Scale Affordable Housing Project to Be Passive House Certified in Chicago

CHICAGO, IL - Interfaith Housing Development Corporation (IHDC) announced the groundbreaking of the Conservatory Apartments. Situated just north of the landmark Garfield Park Conservatory in Chicago, the Conservatory Apartments will serve two populations that in need of permanent, supportive housing with forty-three new, affordable units which are targeting goals that, when achieved, would set a new standard for affordable housing.

IHDC is poised to demonstrate that the Passive House Certification for large, affordable, multi-family housing projects is within reach in a Midwestern climate. "IHDC is committed to providing the healthiest and safest affordable living environments possible, that's why we continue to push for programs that advance human and environmental health through sustainable design," says Perry Vietti, President of Interfaith Housing.  

Conservatory Apartments was designed by national architecture and engineering firm HED, who has worked with IHDC before on affordable housing developments with aggressive sustainability goals. 

"IHDC's goals for this project are twofold," says Susan King, FAIA, LEED AP BD+C, LFA, Sector Leader with HED and Principal in Charge of the Conservatory Apartments design team, "First, the building is being designed to meet Passive House Standards and achieve Passive House certification through the Passive House Institute of the United States (PHIUS), which is a next-generation passive house standard that combines thorough design verification protocol with a stringent QA/QC program to deliver better buildings. Secondly, the project has been selected to be a participant in the Living Building Challenge (LBC) Pilot Program for affordable housing." 

As a pilot participant in the LBC Pilot Program the design team was able to participate in a biophilic design workshop which then informed the interior design. The design team utilized the simulation of natural forms throughout the interior via specified light fixtures and patterned glass. The incorporation of a low maintenance moss wall in the building lobby is both a way of bringing nature inside as well as a nod to the namesake conservatory a block away. Through a biophilic design approach, the Conservatory Apartments will tell a story about nature that will tie it to its place and time.

Once successfully constructed, Conservatory will be the largest multi-family building in Chicago to meet this PHIUS standard. This is significant because it will demonstrate that achieving these goals is not only attainable at a practical scale, but in a region with a demanding four seasons climate. This sends a strong message about not just the possibility but necessity for affordable housing to prioritize resident and environmental health through innovative design. To date, the only other Passive House Certified affordable housing project in Chicago holds six units, compared to Conservatory's forty-three. To meet these goals, Conservatory will be equipped with a variety of energy saving and efficient features, including complying with the ComEd energy efficient guidelines, 14 kw photovoltaic systems (solar panels), energy saving appliances and lighting, and through the specification of water saving plumbing fixtures, indoor water use will be reduced by 25%. Conservatory will also be transit-oriented, placed on a site less than 1,500 ft from the Conservatory green line stop. The project will be constructed by the locally-based Henry Bros Co.

Of the Conservatory's forty-three new units, thirty-four will target individuals who are chronically homeless and who have a disability, and nine are set aside for persons from the Illinois State Referral Network (SRN). To provide these populations with supportive programming in addition to housing, IHDC is partnering with Deborah's Place, a nonprofit provider of housing and services to persons who have experienced homelessness, and Trilogy Behavioral Health, a comprehensive integrated care agency that enables people in mental health recovery to build meaningful and independent lives.

"Deborah's Place and Trilogy will provide services and care to the formerly homeless residents that will reside in Conservatory's forty-three units," says Vietti, "Our mission is to create high-quality, financially and environmentally sustainable, affordable housing for low-income individuals and families that provide a safe, healthy and thriving environment with supportive services as a foundational strategy. Conservatory is an excellent example of that mission taking form in Chicago."

Residents will benefit from the partnership of service providers as has been demonstrated in other projects. Susan Doig, Interim Chief Executive Officer at Trilogy says, "We are so excited to partner again with IHDC. Conservatory will allow us to serve more people with disabilities moving out of long-term care into independent apartments and people who have lived experience with homelessness will be housed in their own apartment. We have found that collaboration is what makes these projects successful, and we are honored to be a part of this innovative team."

Source: Interfaith Housing Development / HED / Henry Bros. Co.

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