The Massachusetts Clean Energy Center’s Passive House Design Challenge program has awarded grants to eight affordable housing developments throughout the state that will be built to the Passive House standard. The Design Challenge seeks to demonstrate that multi-family affordable housing can be built to the high efficiency levels of Passive House at a low-to-no cost premium.

From the press release (full version here):

“As we work to build more affordable housing throughout the state to meet our current crisis, it is vital we build high-quality, future-proofed housing that takes current and future energy needs into account,” said Housing and Community Development Undersecretary Janelle Chan. “Today’s awards will advance eight affordable housing developments, which will provide more than 500 units for low and middle-income households. We are thrilled to be supporting housing development that is safe and affordable for families, and is built to Passive House standards, reducing carbon emissions and lowering households’ energy costs.”

The eight developments, four of which have secured low income tax credit financing and three which are applying to the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) for affordable housing tax credits, are:

  • Homeowner’s Rehab Finch Cambridge – Cambridge ($147,000) – A new 98-unit affordable housing project designed for resiliency to allow for potential flooding and low energy consumption using efficient heat pump heating and cooling technology.  Shading features are included to lower cooling demands.  The building will also include a 100 KW Solar Photovoltaic array to generate electricity for heating and cooling.
  • Preservation for Affordable Housing Mattapan Station – Mattapan ($540,000) – An urban-centric housing complex with 135 apartments designed to promote the Neponset River Greenway and bike paths, while reducing energy consumption.  The building will use efficient electric heat pump technology for heating and cooling and is exploring innovative heat pump technology to heat hot water.
  • Beacon Communities Old Colony Phase Three C – South Boston ($220,000) – As part of the third phase of the redevelopment of Old Colony, the project provides affordable housing for vulnerable seniors at extremely low energy use and 55 new apartments.  The building will feature much less drafty apartments with at least four times lower air infiltration rates than would be required by code, high levels of ventilation with heat recovery equipment, and attention to creating thermal breaks in the walls and roof to improve energy performance.
  • NorthShore Community Development Corporation’s Harbor Village – Gloucester ($120,000) – A 30-unit affordable housing construction will include retail spaces, bike storage, and gallery space as well as being in the heart of downtown Gloucester and will feature efficient heat pumps for heating and cooling.
  • Dakota Partners – Hanson ($192,000) – A new construction housing project for families. When completed, Depot Village, located near an MBTA commuter rail stop, will create 48 new rental units.  The building will utilize balanced ventilation with heat recovery, heat pumps for heating and cooling, and reduced heat loss. The project is creating a template for Dakota Partners to use on future developments that will be designed for Passive House construction and certification.
  • Community Builders North Commons – Northampton ($212,000) – The project will increase insulation levels, air sealing, and ventilation levels to meet Passive House Standards for 53 apartments. It will provide mixed‐income, new construction family rental housing development on the Village Hill campus in Northampton, Massachusetts and will include both affordable and workforce housing units, serving households with a broad range of incomes.
  • Preservation of Affordable Housing Bartlett Station Lot D – Roxbury ($168,000) – Bartlett Station Lot D includes the construction of 52 senior housing units. Lot D is a part of the master planned Bartlett Station, an 8.6-acre former MBTA bus yard.  The building will include shading features, higher levels of air sealing, balanced ventilation with heat recovery, and a central efficient heat pump systems for heating and cooling.
  • NeighborWorks Southern Mass’s Holbrook Center Senior Housing – Holbrook ($131,200) – A 100% affordable rental housing will cater to seniors aged 65 and over with one-bedroom apartments and common amenities such as a library and fitness center, this housing development will provide support services that aim to accommodate residents’ changing needs as they age. The design will offer seniors more comfort, make for quieter apartments, and less noise from the street and adjacent apartments.

The Passive House Design Challenge awards are complemented by the recent addition of MassSave Passive House incentives for multi-family buildings.  Multi-family new construction buildings above four stories, both market rate and affordable, may be eligible for Passive House energy modeling funding and up to $3,000 per unit if they certify to the high-efficiency Passive House standard.