Gilford Village Knolls III is the first multi-family Passive House residence in New Hampshire. But if you ask Sal Steven-Hubbard of Lakes Region Community Developers, it won’t be the last. As the real estate development director at LRCD, she is excited about the new senior living apartments being built in the town of Gilford.
“A few years ago, LRCD made the commitment to use green and sustainable practices and policies throughout the organization,” said Steven-Hubbard. “So when NH Housing’s QAP offered additional points for developing affordable housing that meets Passive House standards, we went for it.”
LRCD (formerly Laconia Area Community Land Trust) was successful in getting resources from NH Housing— the hard part was that the project had already been designed without Passive House Principles.
As the name suggests, this is the third phase of an affordable community for elderly residents. The first phase was started by a group in the 1980s, and the second phase was built in the early 2000s. The Gilford Village Knolls Trustees tried repeatedly to build a third phase without success. In 2016, the advocate group turned to LRCD for development expertise. Little did they know that the partnership would produce such sustainable results.
The Trustees already had designs for the building, so the LRCD worked with Peter Stewart of Stewart Associates Architects to integrate Passive House principles. It wasn’t easy to work with existing designs, but Stewart managed to add features to make as tight a building envelope as possible so that the building can be heated and cooled at a very low cost. A 344-panel solar array on the top of the building adds sustainability to the project overall.
Martini Northern is the construction company bringing the plans to life. Steven-Hubbard notes that Martini Northern, Stewart Associates Architects, and indeed, all of the project partners, made for an effective team.
“Everyone worked very hard on this project and have all remained committed to doing the right thing— it’s been a great process,” she said.
According to Tom MacDonald, VP of Acquisitions at NNEHIF, Passive House developments can be expensive to construct, however, the longer term advantage is that the anticipated lower operating costs that can help keep the rents affordable.
“Passive House projects help promote our mission, and those of our developers, to build safe, energy-efficient affordable housing for the long-term, and that plays a large role in the attractiveness of the transaction for our investors,” said MacDonald.
Steven-Hubbard doesn’t know when the next Passive House project will be, but she’s certain that LRCD will continue to pay close attention to the design principles. She’s especially eager to see how Gilford Village Knolls III performs in the coming years.
Passive House Institute US (PHIUS) will be monitoring the building over the next two years and providing LRCD with data about everything from energy usage and savings to CO2, temperature, and moisture— information that can help LRCD make data-based decisions for future projects.
The elderly housing facility (age-restricted for residents ages 62 and older) features 24 one-bedroom apartments, a community room, a laundry room, and an office for the resident services coordinator.
Perhaps the best thing about Gilford Village Knolls III is its location. Nestled in the center of the small, serene village of Gilford, residents can easily walk downtown to the library, community center, and churches. Phase three is also next to Gilford Village Knolls II, and a walking path connects all three phases of the development.
Passive House standards may make the housing sustainable, but for the residents of Gilford Village Knolls III, a sense of community makes the housing home.