Thursday, July 2, 2009

"Solutions for Working Families" Mobile Workshop: Cutting-Edge Green Developments in Chicago

Several mobile workshops at NHC and the Center for Housing Policy's "Solutions for Working Families: 2009 Learning Conference on State and Local Housing Policy" provided conference attendees with an opportunity to visit affordable yet innovative properties in the Chicago Metro area. The mobile workshops took a closer look at mixed-income housing, cutting-edge green developments and housing affordability in affluent communities.

The Margot and Harold Schiff Residences

The mobile workshop on cutting-edge green developments took participants to Chicago's Near North community. The area was home to the infamous Cabrini-Green public housing projects and a few of the original buildings still remain. Workshop participants toured The Margot and Harold Schiff Residences developed by Mercy Housing Lakefront, which is new construction that includes 96 units of permanent, supportive housing for the chronically homeless and very low income adults. The Schiff Residences is part of the city's Ten Year Plan to End Homelessness.

Green aspects of this innovative development include "Gray Water" waste water reclamation, which involves the capture of water from lavatories and showers -- after some filtering -- for the toilet flushing water. The building also has a reflective roof surface made of a light colored metal that reflects the heat energy ordinarily absorbed by conventional roofs. In addition, the building provides solar water heating that results in energy savings of about 30 percent for domestic hot water with roof collectors providing heat to an exchanger for the building's hot water supply.

Sankofa House

The mobile workshop also included a tour of the Sankofa House that was developed by the Sankofa Safe Child Initiative and the Interfaith Housing Development Corporation of Chicago in the North Lawndale area. The building includes 58 units for youth between 18 to 23 years old who are aging out of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, as well as low-income kinship families consisting of adults raising the children of close family members.

The Sankofa Safe Child Initiative has offices on site that provide supportive services, offer intergenerational building activities, and connect residents with community resources.

Earning a top-tier three-star certification from the Chicago Department of Housing's Green Development Program, the Sankofa House has wide-ranging sustainable features, including an eco-friendly elevator that uses 60 percent less energy than a hydraulic elevator, low flow plumbing fixtures that will save nearly 300 thousand gallons of water annually, and fixed sun shades on the southern windows to reduce heat gain in the summer.

In addition to the organizations that developed these innovative buildings, NHC and the Center for Housing Policy would like to sincerely thank CNT Energy and the Neighborhood Housing Services of Chicago for helping to make this mobile workshop possible.

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