Worthy of Applause

Chip Henderson, AIA, CEM, LEED Faculty
October 27, 2012
Worthy of Applause

I’m starting to notice some common traits in the creative leaders involved in affordable housing – a wonderful combination of grit and grace. Their ability to combine determination and perseverance with refinement and style is truly worthy of applause.  In 2010, New Hope Housing in Houston built Texas' first LEED certified affordable housing project - and it is Platinum! - a huge feat by a not-for-profit organization. Following this successful achievement, New Hope just opened their second beautiful SRO (single room occupancy) project - 4415 Perry. This project is also received LEED Platinum certification in 2013.

Foundation Communities received the award for best new development from Envision Central Texas with their M-Station project. This award recognizes innovative people, projects and processes that address growth in  ways  that encourage a strong quality of life. This LEED Platinum project was designed for low- to moderate-income families in East Austin. Foundation Communities will break ground in early 2013 on their next project, Capitol Studios. The first new affordable housing project in downtown Austin in over 40 years. The Capitol Studios project will blend an ambitious set of “green building” goals including Living Building Challenge, LEED for Homes Platinum, Austin Energy-5 star, and Enterprise Green Communities. 

Proyecto Azteca is constructing 30 quality affordable houses for very low income families in the Texas valley using the LEED green rating system to guide and inform the process. Absolutely wonderful stuff!

How do they do it? These organizations face more than their fair share of economic challenges, yet deliver high-performance projects that enrich lives and communities. Designing and building affordable housing requires a mix of technical skills and people skills that make each organization unique. Yet they all share a common set of traits: a quality driven agenda with committed leadership, a focus on the residents and families they serve, defined performance goals and creative project teams. These organizations either instinctively or learned from experience that ambitious targets and effective measurement of performance are essential to deliver quality and continuous improvement. 

Sam Raskin, former head of the ENERGY STAR Home program once said; “Creating anything is about 90 percent inspiration.” Contects is very proud to be working with three very inspired organizations.