The $16 million Project Open rental community of 112 one-bedroom units is the product of Giv Development, a Salt Lake City developer that specializes in mixed-income housing communities. Its not-for-profit arm explores new concepts for affordable, sustainable housing.
“We’re interested in developing a scalable net-zero model that will start to shift market dynamics and encourage developers to recognize that building this way is the economically intelligent thing to do,” said Giv Group Executive Director Chris Parker.
The all-electric building is located in the city’s Guadalupe neighborhood, an urban district on the front lines of gentrification. “We want the building to serve as a bulwark against the population being pushed out as property values continue to rise,” said Parker.
About 70% of Project Open’s units are set aside as affordable, some with rents as low as $375 a month. A historic furniture warehouse behind the building was converted into amenity spaces and 14 studio workspaces for rent by resident artists and entrepreneurs.
“I love what Giv is doing to make sure the neighborhood will remain affordable for people who have lived here for generations,” said tenant Valarie Williams. She moved into the building when it opened in January 2017 and also rents studio space for her part-time hand-lettering business. “The fact that it’s sustainable and also gives me a space in which to create was icing on a really great cake,” she said.
The clubhouse of Project Open resides in a historic furniture warehouse that Giv Development renovated into 14 affordable creative studios, a gym, and a conference room, in addition to the clubhouse. The reconstructed building is now another emission-free component of Giv’s Project Open complex. Photo: Brandon Hyatt Photography
Goldman Sachs, Olene Walker Housing Loan Fund, and Utah Housing Corporation provided funding. Although no solar tax credits were issued, Rocky Mountain Power set up the solar program and provided transportation and energy-efficiency rebates.
Lowering carbon emissions is a high priority in Salt Lake City. Air quality is particularly poor during winter months, when prolonged inversions cause cold, stagnant air to settle in mountain basins and trap pollutants. The metro area ranked eighth nationally in so-called PM2.5 spikes, which measure small particulate matter pollutants, according to the American Lung Association’s 2019 “State of the Air” report.
Addressing the region’s air quality problems is “an issue that has to be taken up collectively or no one gets much benefit,” said Parker. “Utah’s population is expected to double in the next 30 years, so there’s a bit of urgency here.”
FINE-TUNING THE carbon neutral apartment APPROACH
Space limitations on the roof made it impossible to power the entire six-story building with rooftop PVs. Instead, residents purchase their electricity from Rocky Mountain Power’s Subscriber Solar program, via solar panels housed at a power facility in central Utah. “The program offers reliable solar production without any upfront capital costs, which provides a real market incentive to move to electrification,” said Parker.
Each residence is heated and cooled by an individual heat pump, but Giv also opted to install a supplemental resistance heating system to make sure residents can stay warm in Utah’s brutal winters. Tankless electric water heaters added to total energy demand, necessitating an upgrade to a 150-amp circuit breaker in each unit.
“It really caught us off guard how difficult and time-consuming it was going to be to route power to the units,” said Tyler Hollon, Business Development Specialist at general contractor Wadman Corporation. “We had to run six-gauge wires to each unit and didn’t really plan for enough room in the walls to make everything fit.”
Hollon anticipates all-electric buildings will become the local standard as technology advancements and construction ingenuity continue to make the project economics more appealing. “I wouldn’t be surprised if half the units will be built this way in two years,” said Hollon, whose firm is currently building about 1,200 carbon-neutral residential units throughout the Salt Lake City area.
Related content: Deluxe parking: A condo building in Philadelphia offers its owners a completely automated parking service
Project Open phase two, currently under construction and scheduled to open later this year, will offer a wider range of living options, from live/work studio apartments to four-bedroom units. The two-building complex will integrate high-efficiency mini-split heat pumps, hybrid heat pump water heaters, and no-backup resistance heating units to save energy. It will also incorporate more amenities that support a low-carbon lifestyle, such as an electric vehicle ride-share program, e-bikes, and a fresh food space to lessen the need for frequent trips to the grocery store.
A planned third phase, expected to break ground in 2020, will incorporate some condominium units.
Ultimately, Giv wants to provide local developers, contractors, and architects with real-world residential models that outperform conventional properties from an economic, environmental, and social equity standpoint. Project Open is creating a public website where it will share real-time data on each building’s energy use, construction costs, and the specific building systems and products that were used.
“We envision Project Open as an open source research tool for anyone—including us—to keep thinking about solving the challenges we currently have with the way we build,” said Parker.
PROJECT TEAM | PROJECT OPEN, PHASE ONE
DEVELOPER Giv Development
ARCHITECT Architecture Belgique
STRUCTURAL ENGINEER Canyons Structural
CIVIL ENGINEER Focus Engineering
MEP ENGINEER PVE
ENERGY CONSULTANT Provident Energy
GENERAL CONTRACTOR Wadman Corporation
Photo: Brandon Hyatt Photography
Photo: Brandon Hyatt Photography
Photo: Brandon Hyatt Photography
Urban Planning | Mar 16, 2023
Three interconnected solutions for 'saving' urban centers
Gensler Co-CEO Andy Cohen explores how the global pandemic affected city life, and gives three solutions for revitalizing these urban centers.
Building Tech | Mar 14, 2023
Reaping the benefits of offsite construction, with ICC's Ryan Colker
Ryan Colker, VP of Innovation at the International Code Council, discusses how municipal regulations and inspections are keeping up with the expansion of off-site manufacturing for commercial construction. Colker speaks with BD+C's John Caulfield.
Multifamily Housing | Mar 14, 2023
Multifamily housing rent rates remain flat in February 2023
Multifamily housing asking rents remained the same for a second straight month in February 2023, at a national average rate of $1,702, according to the new National Multifamily Report from Yardi Matrix. As the economy continues to adjust in the post-pandemic period, year-over-year growth continued its ongoing decline.
Student Housing | Mar 13, 2023
University of Oklahoma, Missouri S&T add storm-safe spaces in student housing buildings for tornado protection
More universities are incorporating reinforced rooms in student housing designs to provide an extra layer of protection for students. Storm shelters have been included in recent KWK Architects-designed university projects in the Great Plains where there is a high incidence of tornadoes. Projects include Headington and Dunham Residential Colleges at the University of Oklahoma and the University Commons residential complex at Missouri S&T.
Mixed-Use | Mar 11, 2023
Austin mixed-use development will provide two million sf of office, retail, and residential space
In Austin, Texas, the seven-building East Riverside Gateway complex will provide a mixed-use community next to the city’s planned Blue Line light rail, which will connect the Austin Bergstrom International Airport with downtown Austin. Planned and designed by Steinberg Hart, the development will include over 2 million sf of office, retail, and residential space, as well as amenities, such as a large park, that are intended to draw tech workers and young families.
Multifamily Housing | Mar 7, 2023
Multifamily housing development in Chicago takes design inspiration from patchwork and quilting
HUB 32, a 65-unit multifamily housing development, will provide affordable housing and community amenities in Chicago’s Garfield Park neighborhood. Brooks + Scarpa’s recently unveiled design takes inspiration from the American tradition of patchwork and quilting.
Adaptive Reuse | Mar 5, 2023
Pittsburgh offers funds for office-to-residential conversions
The City of Pittsburgh’s redevelopment agency is accepting applications for funding from developers on projects to convert office buildings into affordable housing. The city’s goals are to improve downtown vitality, make better use of underutilized and vacant commercial office space, and alleviate a housing shortage.
Student Housing | Mar 5, 2023
Calif. governor Gavin Newsom seeks to reform environmental law used to block student housing
California Gov. Gavin Newsom wants to reform a landmark state environmental law that he says was weaponized by wealthy homeowners to block badly needed housing for students at the University of California, Berkeley.
Green Renovation | Mar 5, 2023
Dept. of Energy offers $22 million for energy efficiency and building electrification upgrades
The Buildings Upgrade Prize (Buildings UP) sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy is offering more than $22 million in cash prizes and technical assistance to teams across America. Prize recipients will be selected based on their ideas to accelerate widespread, equitable energy efficiency and building electrification upgrades.
AEC Innovators | Mar 3, 2023
Meet BD+C's 2023 AEC Innovators
More than ever, AEC firms and their suppliers are wedding innovation with corporate responsibility. How they are addressing climate change usually gets the headlines. But as the following articles in our AEC Innovators package chronicle, companies are attempting to make an impact as well on the integrity of their supply chains, the reduction of construction waste, and answering calls for more affordable housing and homeless shelters. As often as not, these companies are partnering with municipalities and nonprofit interest groups to help guide their production.