IRVINE, CA - Award-winning national architecture and planning firm KTGY Group, Inc.'s thought-leader Manny Gonzalez, AIA, LEED AP, and principal, says that putting the right design team together and selecting the right product and density that provides the best return on investment are vital to success. "A good design team can be very innovative in interpreting zoning and building codes. A perfect example of this are the walk up garden apartments KTGY has been designing at densities over 40 units to the acre and urban wood-frame apartments over 200 units to the acre," noted Gonzalez.
"We also need to be aware of the latest products and technology that can help us create affordable, sustainable communities. But, just as important, are the 'low tech' opportunities like using 2'x6' studs at 24-inch centers and installing electrical outlets that stop 'vampire' charging," Gonzalez said.
"While developers are embracing the sustainable practices that LEED promotes, they seem to be less willing to pay the added cost of certification and commissioning. Just building to the current California Building Code nearly guarantees that a project can achieve LEED certification. However, the six-figure cost for LEED certification is one of the first line items to get scratched from any development budget. Because of this, I think you will be seeing more and more 'LEED inspired' projects in the future," Gonzalez stated.
"As cities update their building codes, they will undoubtedly continue to add green building regulations, which will level the playing field for the construction industry as a whole since it will no longer be an elective cost to build green. But being able to build green in an affordable manner will put the savvy builders ahead of the pack," said Gonzalez.
"One of my favorite examples is Garbett Homes and the KTGY-designed Solaris Collection at Daybreak, a single family community near Salt Lake City, where a billboard with a picture of one of the community’s homeowners has a quote that reads, 'My power bill is $5. What’s yours?'" Gonzalez stated.
The Solaris Collection was named Residential Project of the Year in the detached product category and won a Gold Nugget Grand Award in 2012. Solaris offers high-density ENERGY STAR rated single-family homes for cost-conscious, eco-minded buyer, from the low $200,000s. Unique to this price-point, Garbett Homes includes solar panels, geothermal heating and cooling, and a super-tight energy-efficient building envelope with HERS ratings under 40 in a Climate Zone 5, which saves residents up to 70% on their monthly utility bills. The homes' eclectic, modern exteriors with fiber-cement siding are used in unique ways not seen before in this market and a vibrant color palette add to the overall unique appeal, according to Gonzalez.
Garbett Home's urban infill project, TerraSol in nearby South Salt Lake, broke ground in August 2011, and all 60 homes were sold by April 2012, without Garbett Homes building any spec homes, according to Gonzalez. The single-family homes designed by KTGY are ENERGY STAR rated and include as standard either photovoltaic solar and solar hot water or geothermal heating and cooling.
"While KTGY has been quite busy with many exciting new sustainable projects, the ABC Green Home is certainly one of the most important to the homebuilding industry," Gonzalez said. "Being able to demonstrate that architects can design a Net Zero Energy home that is affordable, buildable and certifiable has been a tremendous opportunity for KTGY."
According to Gonzalez, the project's designer, the ABC Green Home is a 1,695-square-foot single-story affordable, entry-level, certifiable green home, the first of its kind to be built by Southern California Edison (SCE) or any utility company. Built in 70 days and sponsored by Green Home Builder magazine, the ABC Green Home is currently on display at the Great Park in Irvine, Calif., and is open to the public. The home will be on display for the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2013, October 3-13, at the Great Park. This is the first time this world-famous competition will be held outside of Washington DC, and the ABC Home will be a key display. Eventually, the home will be donated to Habitat for Humanity and given to a wounded service person.
Gonzalez added, "Another exciting project designed by KTGY is Primera Terra, a LEED Platinum luxury for-sale multifamily community in Playa Vista, Calif., developed by KB Home. An innovative redesign/repositioning solution, Primera Terra achieved LEED Platinum certification without incorporating solar panels." Primera Terra won numerous top honors in 2012 including the NAHB Pillars of the Industry and BALA award programs and the EcoHome Design Grand Award; plus the USGBC LEED for Homes Award in the Multifamily category in 2011.
Other recently completed sustainable multifamily communities designed by KTGY include Dana Strand in Los Angeles, a LEED Gold 100-unit senior apartment community, which was a public/private partnership between the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles (HACLA) with ROEM Development Corporation and Dana Strand Senior, LLC. Dana Strand combines eco-friendly design with luxury, amenity-rich living at an affordable rental rate specifically targeting the needs of seniors 62 years and better. Dana Strand received a NAHB Best 50+ Gold Award in the Affordable Rental Community category in 2012.
Heritage Oaks Senior Apartments in Oakdale, Calif., is a LEED Platinum 50-unit apartment community for low income seniors age 55 and better, which was designed by KTGY and developed by Central Valley Coalition for Affordable Housing and Adroit Development, Inc. The community offers a variety of creative indoor and outdoor amenities including a "Garage" with large workbenches for the men and a hobby and craft studio for the women. Residents can even try out their green thumb skills at the raised-bed gardening areas. Construction was completed in 10 months and ahead of schedule; and was 100% leased within 3 months of the completion date. Heritage Oaks earned several awards in 2012 including NAHB Best of 50+ Gold Award for the Best 50+ Outdoor Amenity and a special Innovation Award for the Outdoor Amenity for the community's "Garage."
Gonzalez will showcase these award-winning green projects at the 2013 NAA Green Conference on April 15-17, 2013, in Baltimore, MD. Gonzalez will be joined by panelists William J. Greene, III, of Wood Partners; David Woodward of CompassRock; and Matt Miller, industry principal for Yardi Energy Solutions™, will serve as moderator on the panel "Green Building and Utility Management – Doing it Right Makes Sense." Hundreds of multifamily property managers, developers and suppliers will gather at the 2013 NAA Green Conference, which is sponsored by the National Apartment Association. The conference will showcase environmentally conscious products and strategies that can save energy and money.
Gonzalez will also be a roundtable speaker on April 26 at the BondMulti in Naples, Florida, America's leading multi-family housing architects forum at the Waldorf Astoria, April 25-28, 2013.
A sought after speaker at national conferences, Manny Gonzalez has more than 25 years experience in design, land planning and production of residential, retail, and mixed-use developments throughout the western US. With his strong interest in livable communities, he focuses on well-scaled, contextual architecture that shapes vibrant environments. He has won numerous awards for his outstanding designs and has written and contributed to scores of articles on residential design. Gonzalez's commitment to the industry includes serving on the Board of Directors for PCBC and is the Design Trends Forum Chair. He also sits on the Board of the National Multi Housing Council and the NAHB Multifamily Leadership Board. Gonzalez is based in KTGY's Santa Monica, Calif. office.
For more information about 2013 NAA Green Conference, visit www.naahq.org
Celebrating 21 years in business, KTGY Group, Inc., Architecture and Planning, is a national award-winning firm providing comprehensive planning and award-winning architectural design services for residential communities, retail, hospitality, mixed-use and related specialty developments. KTGY delivers innovative solutions that reflect clear understanding of development, market trends and financial performance. Serving clients worldwide, KTGY maintains offices in Irvine, Oakland and Santa Monica, Calif., Denver, Colo., and Tysons Corner, Va.