Seattle Housing Authority

Seattle Housing Authority's investment in greener and more affordable housing options has reaped a dividend of 37% savings in fuel consumption so far at High Point, a celebrated mixed-income community in West Seattle.

Energy-Efficient Baxi Luna Makes Low-Income Housing More Affordable

Seattle Housing Authority's investment in greener and more affordable housing options has reaped a dividend of 37 per cent savings in fuel consumption for High Point, its celebrated mixed-income, master-plan community in West Seattle.

Seattle Housing Authority provides shelter for 26,500 low-income citizens a year. An independent public corporation, it serves as the developer and property manager of 5,200 conventional public housing units it owns, helping 12,000 low-income families. Seattle Housing is subsidized by property revenues, private contributions, the Department of Housing and Urban Development and its Hope VI program, as well as the Seattle Senior Housing Program covering 1,000 additional units for seniors and people with disabilities.

Seattle Housing is a leader in the development of low-impact, sustainable mixed-income communities in a dense urban setting, such as High Point, which is the city's largest housing site. The first step in redeveloping High Point was the demolition of 716 homes built in 1940 as temporary housing. The new community will be completed in 2010, and will feature 1,700 homes - a mix of low-income and market-rate properties.

"This is a dream job to be able to create a masterplan community within the city of Seattle," says Tom Phillips, Seattle Housing Authority's senior development manager. He joined the Authority in 2001, after advising developers of large, masterplan communities throughout the nation. "Our work is never finished with thousands more families on a waiting list."

A Model of Sustainability

High Point is a living laboratory for the study of green, mixed-use community redevelopment work. Seattle Housing Authority officials constantly welcome public housing specialists from around the world who seek to glean insights from High Point, winner of the Urban Land Institute's Global Award of Excellence for ideas.

"We were one of five developers throughout the world to win the Global Award of Excellence in 2007. I see it as the most gratifying of the 20 awards that High Point has been given over the past few years," says Tom Phillips.

"The Urban Land Institute sent a team of experts, including some of the leading development experts in the country, to examine thoroughly what we have built."

The High Point redevelopment has clearly set a new standard in sustainable green building for housing authorities, going well beyond Seattle's code requirements. It is a pedestrian-friendly community with ample park space, a senior's village, neighborhood center, a new medical/dental clinic and public library. High Point incorporates the principle of "new urbanism," and the latest in green building techniques.

The design team includes firms that are among the region's leaders in sustainable development, and who share Seattle Housing's passion for building a greener, more affordable and more livable community. The community features an innovative natural drainage system, and a host of energy efficient and water conservation solutions, such as Baxi Luna, a combination heating and domestic hot water wall-hung boiler.

Compact Heating Solution Saves

"Mithun, our architect firm, is a leader in creating specifications for reduced energy use," says Tom Phillips. "We relied on them to recommend the right heating and domestic hot water solution for our rental units at High Point. We took their advice, and it was great."

We recommended the Baxi Luna wall-hung boiler because it supported all of our green goals," says Matt Sullivan, Mithun project manager. "It is an elegant, all-in-one, backpack-sized boiler with tankless hot water capabilities. It generates fuel use savings while helping us make the most of space limitations. Clearly, the Baxi Luna heating solution frees up valuable living space, allowing us to fit a stackable washer and dryer in the same closet as the combination central heating and domestic hot water boiler."

The Housing Authority is obliged to fix any mechanical problem within 24 hours. With that requirement and, above all, the safety and comfort of its residents in mind, a dedicated team of maintenance mechanics serves the ongoing needs of High Point. Each mechanic has earned Baxi certification, keeping in touch with technicians at Marathon International, the exclusive distributor of Baxi products in North America, to optimize performance of all Baxi boilers installed on the site.

"I am impressed that our maintenance mechanics are very excited about the Baxi Luna. They understand the appliance and are committed to fixing any issue in a prompt and conclusive fashion," emphasizes Tom Phillips. "We want a reliable product that works well and is easy to maintain. The Baxi Luna system has held up, producing great results for us."

10-Year Warranty Adds Peace of Mind

Marathon has also arranged a 10-year extended parts and labor warranty on all Baxi boilers at Phase 2 of High Point - providing further protection of the housing authority's investment.

Seattle Housing commissioned a comprehensive independent study to examine the costs and benefits associated with High Point redevelopment. The 97-page report, Sharing The Benefits of Building Green: A Study of The High Point Community, showed that homes with Baxi units in Phase 1 of the High Point community enjoyed total fuel consumption savings of 37% over the results for another Seattle Housing redevelopment that is using a different hydronic heating solution. Moreover, total utility costs for High Point were 56% below the Seattle average.

The High Point study showed that the inclusion of conservation technology, including the Baxi hydronic heating system, was a sound investment decision. The report also noted that as utility rates increase, and utilities and government agencies add new financial incentives for conservation, the return on investment can be expected to grow even larger.

Tom Phillips says Seattle Housing will continue to measure return on its green building investments. "We expect to achieve even greater savings from Baxi heating solutions, as we gain more knowledge about how to get the most out of Baxi systems."

A case study by Marathon International, Exclusive North American Baxi Distributor - www. April 2009