ComEd bridges affordable housing with green technology for Chicago residentsAugust 3, 2021
April Harris, a tenant in Tierra Linda, a new affordable housing property in Chicago’s Humboldt Park neighborhood, enjoys her new home and the energy efficiency benefits that come with it.
To help bridge affordable housing with green technology for low-income Chicago residents, ComEd partnered with Chicago-based developer, Latin United Community Housing Association (LUCHA), to construct the six-unit flat. The multi-family property, which was built according to Passive House standards (PHIUS+), follows unique design and construction requirements with the goal of lowering energy consumption.
Affordable housing property in Chicago’s Humboldt Park was built to Passive House Standards, which follows unique design and construction requirements with the goal of lowering energy consumption.
“It’s great having permanent housing and even better when it’s green and sustainable,” Harris said. “Because of the Passive House standards, we save a lot of money on our bills. I’ve noticed a huge difference.”
To understand the real impact PHIUS+ standards have on energy bills, indoor air quality and occupants, the property was compared to a similar neighboring building constructed to ENERGY STAR standards. The main differences between PHIUS+ and ENERGY STAR come down to insulation, ventilation and appliances.
The two buildings were monitored from November 2018 through October 2020 to examine and compare differences in energy consumption, operating costs and indoor air quality.
Key findings include:
Total site energy use is about a third less for the PHIUS+ property. When water heating, lighting and other appliances are added to the mix, the PHIUS+ uses 37% less energy than the ENERGY STAR property.
The high-performance building shell for the PHIUS+ property leads to substantially lower seasonal heating loads. The windows alone contribute to almost 30% of the energy savings, while accounting for less than 10% of the incremental cost.
The PHIUS+ units use highly efficient electric heat pumps for both heating and cooling throughout the year. The Passive House building used air-source heat pumps to condition the space, compared to ENERGY STAR certified appliances such as gas furnaces. While this leads to greater energy efficiency, the cost can vary widely depending on factors such as utility rates.
Technology installed in Tierra Linda is helping reduce energy costs for its tenants.
Annual energy costs for the PHIUS+ property are about 19% less than the ENERGY STAR property.
Despite having a building shell with drastically improved air tightness, the PHIUS+ property did not have any differences in indoor air quality than the comparison building.