Passive House Retrofit Provides Homes for Homeless Families

One of the few buildings in the US certified to "Passive House" standards will be home to low income and formerly homeless families in Washington DC. 

Called The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Commons, the deep retrofit of three blighted buildings combines state-of-the-art environmental design with affordable rents and support services for homeless families.

36 formerly homeless and low income families will not only have below-market rents, they will also get help finding employment, along with other services for youth and families. A third of the apartments are reserved for families with more intensive needs.

"Our goal is sustainability, not just in the environmental sense, but in an economic sense to keep these families in a stable, supportive situation," says Polly Donaldson, executive director of the nonprofit co-developer Transitional Housing Corporation.


Green Building Passive House Before

 After, but still ugly, unfortunately:

Green Building Passive House After

The deep energy retrofit includes super-insulation, an air-tight
building shell, energy recovery ventilation, tuned solar shading & high performance windows and extremely efficient active space conditioning, resulting in 60-90% lower energy demand than conventional buildings. 

That’s in addition to renovated kitchen and bathrooms, façade improvements, a common laundry room and a community room with computer workstations.

The development team: Zavos Architecture+Design, Hamel Builders, JDC Construction, Passive to Positive, Entellis Collaborative, Advanced Consulting Engineers, AMT Consulting Engineers, and SK&A DC. Transitional Housing Corporation functions as co-developer, landlord, and service provider.

Weinberg Commons is one of just 21 apartment buildings nationwide that are seeking Passive House certification, the most stringent standards to date that achieve net-zero energy buildings.

Driving growth of affordable, high performance buildings is one of six overarching goals of the ambitious Sustainable DC plan

Housing Corporation, which provides housing and
comprehensive support services for over 500 homeless and at-risk families in
Washington DC, purchased the complex.  

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