Milton, Vermont will soon be home to Vermont’s first passive house certified, multi-family building. Cathedral Square broke ground on Elm Place in the spring of 2016 and when completed it will house 30 one-bedroom apartments for low-income seniors that will use 95% less heating energy and 65% less total energy than apartments built to code.
Passive house standards emphasize designing the building to take advantage of solar radiation through the windows to heat the home and high levels of insulation and air sealing around windows and doors to keep warm (or cool) air in. Passive House design is cost competitive especially with larger buildings. This project will only cost 2% more to build but will use 65% less energy over its lifetime. The project also exemplifies smart growth principles by being close to the town center and services such as the medical center, library and grocery store.
Elm Place will provide affordable housing for seniors, which is sorely needed in the area. A market study contracted by Cathedral Square shows that 64 percent of renters in Milton pay more than 30 percent of their income on rent (what is considered the threshold of affordability). The elderly population in Milton has also been growing. It rose 3% from 2000 – 2010 to 8.8% of the population.
The total cost of the project came to $8.5 million, 75 percent of which came from low-income housing tax credit equity according to Cathedral Square. The land came from three land sales to form the 1.73 acre plot. In addition to the passive house design, the developers have also installed 15 KW of solar on the roof and air source heat pumps will provide heating and cooling.
Kim Fitzgerald, Cathedral Square’s CEO, said, “the Passive House focus on sustainability and human comfort aligns well with our vision for affordable senior housing. It’s very exciting to reduce our carbon footprint while increasing comfort and quality of life.”