Saturday, February 28, 2015

Re-inventing Microhousing - The Yobi Apartments Tour April 25-26

Yobi Apartments is one of our most exciting new housing projects.  We've written about the project in earlier posts, discussing its innovative approach to micro-housing and design features that promote community among the residents.  The project will be featured in the NW GreenHome Tour on April 25th & 26th, so I thought we’d take a post to review the project’s sustainability.

The project has a number of notable sustainable features.  Like most of our work, it is certified Built Green 4 Star, which means that it has met performance criteria over a broad range of categories, including stormwater management, water use, energy use, indoor air quality, and waste reduction.  The project is particularly interesting when you look at its energy usage.

Yobi Apartments has a number of energy saving features, including a high performance exterior envelope, spray foam insulation, passive solar design, high efficiency lighting, and high efficiency gas boilers.  All together, the project has an energy use budget that is 60% of what is required under the current energy code.  That’s pretty good in and of itself, but it’s only half of the picture.
Energy use for buildings is usually measured in a unit called EUI (Mbtu/sf/year). EUI is useful for comparing one building to another in terms of energy use per square foot. Micro-housing is very space efficient & each occupant uses dramatically less square footage than what you see in typical housing, so to really understand the building’s performance you have to look a bit beyond EUI.

A typical code compliant apartment building will have an EUI of about 40.  If you include common areas and circulation, a conventional apartment takes up about 800sf of floor area for each unit.  Yobi Apartments has rather ordinary EUI of 38, but Yobi uses only 280sf per unit.  So, when you take space efficiency into account, you start to see just how energy efficient small apartments can be.  A person living in the Yobi uses roughly 1/3 of the energy of someone living in a conventionally designed apartment building. 

EUI (Mbtu/sf/yr)
per unit
EU per unit
% Energy use compared to typical apartment
Typical Apartment Building
Yobi Apartments

The Yobi apartments represents a very important housing type, providing private market affordable housing in a desirable location, designed to promote community and a featuring a carbon footprint per occupant that is leaps and bounds ahead of conventional housing.  Ironically, Yobi may be both the first and last project of its kind.  Projects like Yobi were largely banned by anti-microhousing legislation passed in November the city council.  It is our hope that city officials and council-members will take advantage of the Green home tour to see Yobi and come to an understanding of just how much baby was thrown out with the bathwater.

Yobi Apartments Project Team:
Architect:  David Neiman and Liz Pisciotta - Neiman Taber Architects
Structural Engineer:  Todd Valentine and Brice Parrish - Harriott Valentine Engineers
Landscape Architect: Patricia Lenssen, Philbin Landscape Architects
General Contractor and Development Services:  Trent Mummery, Metropolitan Company
Marketing and Leasing: Chasten Fulbright, Blanton Turner

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Marion Green Featured on Architizer

We recently submitted our Marion Green Courtyard project for an Architizer A+ Award.  Hard to say what our chances are with the awards jury, but we clearly got the attention of the editorial staff.  They are now featuring the project on their homepage.