By Dell Richards
For the first time, a development in Davis has won a Home of the Year award from Green Builder magazine.
Green Builder Media chose New Harmony Mutual Housing, an affordable apartment project on Cowell Boulevard in South Davis, as “Best Community Project” in its sixth annual awards. Sacramento-based nonprofit Mutual Housing California developed the property.
Of the eight 2013 awards, only one was given to an apartment complex. The others went to private homes across the United States and Canada.
“In the past, we have had winners from Sacramento, San Francisco, Oakland, Goleta and other cities in Northern California, but none in Davis,” said Heather Wallace, Vision House Series director at Seattle-based Green Builder Media. “This multifamily development is the first for that city.”
Tucson, Ariz., architect Hank Krysik, who did his internship on Biosphere II; Michael Ginsburg, owner of Tucson-based La Mirada Homes; and Robert Bulechek, an energy consultant and advocate for aggressive action to address climate change, made the selections.
Judges looked for eco-friendly design such as solar energy use, low-irrigation landscaping and integration with the natural environment.
Among the reasons the judges chose New Harmony are the common spaces such as the garden and dining room that allow residents to spend time together, plus safe play areas for the children in a protected courtyard.
The reviewers commended New Harmony’s use of land next to Interstate 80 and measures taken to alleviate associated issues.
“Judges praised the New Harmony community’s welcoming design, and particularly appreciated the attention to indoor air quality and noise — given the parcel’s location directly adjacent to busy I-80 traffic,” the award read.
Solar panels on the residential and other buildings provide 80 percent of the community’s electricity.
The photovoltaic system and energy-efficient design of the “thermal envelope” means that the 69-apartment complex exceeds California energy conservation requirements by 32 percent.
“We are honored to be recognized for breaking new ground in green and sustainable building,” said Rachel Iskow, chief executive officer of Mutual Housing California. “Being green is part of our mission and has been for many years.”