Sustainable Life • Low-income duplex to meet LEED standards

A new Habitat for Humanity duplex designed to meet stringent green building standards will break ground off of Northeast Alberta Street next month.

The building is expected to achieve the silver level of the LEED for Homes certification. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design and is administered by the nonprofit Green Building Council.

Portland Habitat for Humanity expects building costs to run about $20,000 higher than usual per unit, said Shannon Tennant, development director for Portland Habitat for Humanity.

But, she added, the total cost of the donation-dependent project still is unknown.

She said the building would not have been possible without the support of Cascadia Green Building Council and Portland-based Walsh Construction Co.

According to Tennant, costs will not be passed on to the occupants, who give 500 hours of work to the project and a 1 percent down payment.

Qualified applicants must fall between 30 percent and 60 percent of the median family income, which in Portland, is between about $20,000 and $40,000 a year for a family of four, Tennant said.

Once in the house, occupants pay a no-interest mortgage.

Tennant said Habitat for Humanity already employs green building practices on all of its homes, focusing mostly on energy and water efficiency.

'We want to build responsibly and make sure the homes are affordable long-term by being energy efficient,' she said. 'LEED is the far extreme.'

The duplex will go several steps further by using more locally produced materials, formaldehyde-free interior wood products and a gray-water filtration system. Runoff from the roof will water the yard.

A solar water heating system will be included, if it is donated.

Many LEED certifications are available; the LEED for Homes certification was launched last fall.

Families already have been selected for the duplex, expected to be completed next fall.

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