How did the Trust’s commitment to sustainability come about?
The Trust strives for the highest quality homes for our resident population. Especially when dealing with a formerly homeless community, many of which have special needs, it’s important to have healthy interiors and non-toxic environments for them to live in. By creating high quality interiors, both aesthetically and physically, we ensure our residents don’t suffer from “sick building syndrome” or have the building trigger additional health problems.
On an operations side, it’s important to build efficient buildings that will stand the test of time. Sustainable building practices lower the utility costs of the building, easing the burden on operations in the long term.
How many LEED certified buildings have you done, and what level of certification?
The New Genesis Apartments was our first LEED Platinum certified project. We currently have two projects under construction that are targeting a minimum of LEED Gold (Star Apartments and New Pershing Apartments).
What is that commitment today, and has it evolved?
The commitment to sustainable building practices is not just limited to new construction projects. We have started to revisit the older buildings in the portfolio and have implemented whole building energy retrofits (systems replacements) and single measure improvements (such as low flow fixtures) to lower energy usage and improve interiors. The commitment to sustainability is only evolving and increasing. We plan to retrofit some older buildings with solar panels to offset energy usage as well.
Have your sustainability efforts resulted in quantifiable savings?
Yes, we have seen a decrease in costs. We also monitor our energy usage across the portfolio so that we can measure improvements, but also to detect problems as well.
Do your tenants actively participate in your sustainability efforts?
We involve the residents by providing green living workshops, but also ask for input on priorities so that improvements and sustainable measures not only save energy, but improve the quality of living for the resident community.
How did the Trust’s commitment to sustainability come about?
KFA’s sustainability guru, Christine Cho, has been an architect at the firm for 14 years, 10 of them as a LEED AP. She has been our champion of creative and integrated sustainability, making it a dominant force in our project designs and office culture.
In 2007, KFA’s first LEED project was Fire Station 84 for the City of Los Angeles Proposition F program, which mandated LEED certification for its projects. “As our first LEED project, FS84 was a learning experience for the whole team,” says Christine. There were few products that had the supporting data required by LEED, such as recycled content, renewability, and locally sourced materials. “The research for LEED compliant products was new and exciting, but our choices were limited. It was tough. There was also a change in how we designed a building for improved energy performance. Title 24 energy calculations used to be run simply to meet code; now we create energy models to evaluate building performance as a whole and choose the best options for HVAC and the building envelope while still keeping the construction costs in mind.”
Christine recalls “The early projects were usually LEED certified to meet funding or municipal requirements, as opposed to fulfilling a desire to better the environment or save on utilities. Today, I think everyone is a lot more aware of the long-term cost and health benefits.” Clients and architects are becoming more sophisticated when it comes to incorporating green design, learning what can actually benefit their project’s bottom line or can bring an added community benefit. For example, solar hot water provides real cost savings for affordable housing owners; community gardens double as social gathering points and allow tenants to connect with their homes more deeply; and a high LEED certification can enhance marketing efforts with awards and publicity.
KFA’s LEED knowledge base helped us greatly when working on projects that use other sustainable certification systems, such as Green Communities and the recently adopted CALGreen code. Seeing how completed projects perform in the real world, and analyzing which decisions we made that had a real sustainable effect has helped us evolve and create a big picture approach to sustainable design.
Sustainable projects provide the opportunity to edify tenants, raising awareness of environmental issues and a sense of ownership and pride in projects. Christine adds “As a mother of a 3 year old, we find ways to teach our daughter about the sustainability in everyday routines like recycling and water use. Jemma is a huge fan of the garden that we have in the backyard. In a similar way, more sustainable buildings can be an educating force to entire tenant populations. This can only help the green cause grow and become a permanent part of our culture.”
Chrysalis, a non-profit entity, which has created occupational opportunities through job training for thousands of clients since its formation in 1984, has doubled its space to almost 12,000 square feet.
Designed by KFA, the renovation utilized varying height sloped roofs for the central core of offices to give the interior space a village-like feel. Warm yellow paint envelopes the interior space while black, white and galvanized metal accents add a touch of modernity. Outside, layers of built-up building material were peeled back, exposing the building’s original façade which was painted white. New black-framed storefront windows span the distance between columns and the unsightly portions of the existing façade were disguised by simple black awnings.
“Thanks to KFA, our very limited budget enabled a remarkable transformation which will increase our efficiency and enable us to serve far more people who need assistance in procuring employment,” said Mark Loranger, Chrysalis CEO.
“To keep costs down, KFA used dark-stained plywood flooring, butcherblock counters from IKEA for desktops and donated lateral file cabinets powder-coated black for uniformity,” said Wade Killefer.
To bring natural light into the depths of the building while maintaining a sense of public vs. semi-private space, a large clear glass partition wall separates the lobby from the corridor and private offices.
Addressing Chrysalis client concerns about privacy, the new design provides 39 private offices in lieu of open cubicles. Training room, conference room and lobby capacity were all doubled.
Chard, onions, and lettuce are all growing in the Valley, thanks to the commitment of Clifford Beers Housing and PATH to provide affordable senior housing that is both sustainable and sensitive to the needs of residents.
KFA designed the LEED Platinum project, which opened in late November. NoHo Senior Villas is comfortable, familiar, resident-friendly, and was designed to promote engagement and activity among the mixed low-income and special-needs senior population.
From the street the project is invitingly residential, with step backs, intimate balconies, a warm color scheme, and an enveloping landscape, including a decades old magnolia which was preserved on the site.
The project has three major common areas, all of which are highly visible and accessible to promote resident interaction: the light-filled community room adjacent to the entry and courtyard; a large landscaped roof deck, directly accessible from the windowed laundry room and with views of the surrounding mountains; and the wheel-chair accessible community garden, also on the roof and adjacent to the elevator lobby.
The elevator tower is visible throughout building to help with way-finding. Each floor of the project has a different color scheme to help with orientation, and to also break the 49-unit building into smaller, more easily identifiable pieces - neighborhoods within the building. Corridors are short, with numerous orientating views open to the outdoors that also provide ample ventilation.
The efficient units include a number of features that promote familiarity and interaction. A lighted shelf outside each unit door allows for personal expression to the outside world. Built-in open shelves in the living areas serve to display life’s memorabilia. A dedicated location for a kitchen table and chairs encourages a casual cup of coffee with a neighbor.
2012 was a year of service for two KFA’ers who traveled abroad with Habitat for Humanity: Tarrah to the Philippines, and John to India. They share a bit of their experience here.
In December, I traveled with Habitat for Humanity India to the northwestern state of Rajasthan where I helped build needed housing for expanding families in the small village of Bajhera, just outside the small city of Bharatpur. Habitat teamed up with the local non-profit Lupin, which helps provide needed services to rural southwest Rajasthan, including housing aid, agricultural education, water conservation, and advancement for women and children. With the future homeowners of each house working hard right beside us, our team of 18 volunteers helped local masons haul, stack, and lift the traditional materials of local construction - brick, mortar, earth, and sandstone - into three small houses that would become part of the families’ expanding living and working quarters. Each house measured about 10’ x10’, and was built on a foundation raised several feet above natural grade to protect from monsoon floods. Although the village was poor, the children were well-cared-for and educated, and the people were warm, welcoming, and full of life. Traveling with the purpose to help others, and working with Habitat and the villagers, was nothing like I’ve ever done before: you become deeply engaged with the people and all parts of the culture and the rhythms of daily life - eating, laughing, problem-solving. And I’m ready to do it all over again. See some of my photographs and details of the house building (and my free time exploring).
The Philippines is, like many other third world countries, suffering from a housing crisis, with innumerable homes built on land susceptible to flooding. Habitat for Humanity Philippines teamed up with local government to provide housing to those Filipinos who were living in emergency shelters in the Northern part of Metro Manila and this was the build site for our group of 3 Singaporeans and 6 Americans. Each home is the size of a large living room back in the states, but will house families of 6 to 8 people in Manila.
The partner family we worked alongside was tireless, always thanking us with perfect timing, when the sun was beating down, our faces were sweaty, and our feet were heavy with mud. In the end, the four walls became a symbol of security, family, and most importantly, opportunity for each family. As my grandfather did sixty years ago as a US Navy Seabee, I travelled to the Philippines looking for adventure. What I found was a beautiful country with mountains covered in rice terraces, hospitality in the eyes of smiling curious faces, and the opportunity to give ten families a better and brighter life for their children. To see my daily photo journal and blog, please visit http://hfhnavotas2012.blogspot.com/.
Construction has started on a 115-unit mixed-use multifamily project at 3425 Motor Ave. in the Palms neighborhood of West Los Angeles.
Developed by Frost/Chaddock Developers and designed by Killefer Flammang Architects, the five-story, $30 million structure is located about a quarter-mile from the forthcoming Expo Line Phase II station at Motor and National Avenues.
Designed for young professionals, the project provides studio and one bedroom units ranging in size from 350-560 square feet.
The building exterior—metal wall panels and brick veneer--is distinguished by a well pronounced entry and a horizontal member at the fourth level (which contains an apartment) and connects structural elements on both sides of the building, noted architect Wade Killefer.
The street-level entrance, which will be flanked by retail space, leads to a large courtyard that opens to Motor Avenue.
“We believe the project will encourage pedestrian activity along Motor Avenue and provide a residential anchor with ground floor retail adjacent to the Expo Line extension and nearby station stop,” said James Frost, principal of the development firm. Built under the SB1818 density bonus program, the project will provide 17 units for low-income residents, the developer said.
Including two levels of subterranean parking, the project also provides residents with a lounging area in the outdoor atrium and rooftop gardens with resident amenities.
For Efficiency / In response to market demand, KFA has developed Very Small Units (VSUs) to be built in designated specific plan areas for a targeted population. Developed by SC LLC, the small units will not be subject to the California building or accessibility codes since they lie outside the state’s jurisdiction. Parking will be on a 1 to 1 E/R ratio. The project will be heated and cooled by means of a geothermal heat pump that uses the earth as a heat reservoir since the project location will only receive sunlight half of the year and solar wouldn’t be cost effective.
“We are planning a walkable, sustainable, and affordable housing development that will house not only our employees, but also retirees and qualified family members,” noted project spokesman R. N. Rudolf. Two and three bedroom units at 125 and 145 square feet respectively will also be offered.
“We Elves just can’t find decent housing,” said a workshop foreman. “That darn Claus expects us to work around the clock, but we need a place to sleep too.”
KFA principal Barbara Flammang noted that it is not the size of units that matter but the quality of design. “You would be surprised at what we can accomplish with very small bathroom fixtures (VSBFs) and thoughtfully arranged throw pillows. And, at a one reindeer per Elf ratio, the parking cost comes way down.”
For Holiday Health/ Sometimes the old remedies work as well as modern medicine. For the last 37 years we have held the “Christmas Blues” in abeyance by consuming moderate doses of this 1732 recipe for Fish House Punch. Serves many.
Mix together in a large non-metal container and serve over ice:
Quart of fresh lemon juice, strained of pulp
Quart of Brandy
Quart of Meyers Dark Rum
Quart of Golden Rum
Quart of Peach Brandy
Quart of water
2 cups of sugar
For Good Taste/ KFA is pioneering a new building system that will help projects meet the strict requirements of the new California Edibility Code that takes effect in January of 2013. Called SGP, or structural gingerbread panels, it is a combination of rigid baked pre-formed components and a sugar-based high-strength polymer fastener.
“SGP construction is well suited to Los Angeles because the dry climate keeps the buildings from getting too moist,” stated Wade Killefer who is heading up the research team, “Additionally the panels are locally baked, which lends a certain freshness to the designs along with qualifying for LEED points.” A recent breakthrough came with applying an egg glaze before baking, which plays a dual purpose as a water-resistant barrier and an anti-graffiti coating.
SGP panels are particularly conducive for use with popular contemporary cladding systems, such as gumdrops and candy canes. “We’ve had some issues fine-tuning the specifications as the system is still new to most contractors. At one project we called for papaya Jelly Belly roofing, and we got CVS-brand orange jelly beans. It’s a learning curve for all of us, but we think the system has great promise,” noted Killefer. The cost of materials is expected to go down after New Year’s, making it an attractive alternative for hungry developers. Stay tuned…
Three factors accounted for the $56 million price paid by Archstone last week (Oct. 15) for The Frank, a 70-unit mixed-use multifamily project in coastal Venice, CA—thoughtful design, a market with a constrained housing supply and a high level of sustainability.
“Venice is a very eclectic market with a limited housing supply for young, upscale professionals,” said Brent Gaulke of Portland, OR-based Gerding Edlen, the developer.
“Despite high monthly rents, which ranged from $3,000 to over $5,000, the apartment community was 98% leased at the time of the sale,” added Gaulke, noting that the project, which opened early this year, is a fine example of thoughtful design.
The Frank was conceived to engage the distinctive articulated context of Venice, according to project principal Barbara Flammang. One and two bedroom units, ranging from 800SF to 1400SF open up to large, lushly landscaped courtyards. Five two-story townhouses face a wide sidewalk and lively Rose Avenue, and are located above ground floor retail that includes 2 restaurants, a yoga studio and a hair salon.
Two large, generously landscaped courtyards and onsite retail shops, including a yoga studio and two restaurants-- Café Gratitude (which mainly serves organic foods) and Piccolo--resonated with the renters as soon as they saw the community, Flammang said.
Interior highlights include large operable windows and balcony doors to welcome fresh sea breezes, steel trellises and glass balcony railings.
Built on a landmark 1.4-acre site formerly occupied by the historic Pioneer Bakery-- highly revered by the local populace-- the entitlement process was extremely demanding, related architect Flammang. “We had at least 30 community meetings prior to city approval.”
These local inputs and the developer’s astute marketing plan played a major role in the resulting design, she said.
Emphasizing the developer’s commitment to sustainability, the project includes a solar hot water system and a LEED Platinum rating.Its energy consumption metric is estimated at 34% less than a typical building, the developer said.
Building materials included hardboard siding, exterior plaster, red brick veneer, steel trellises and glass balcony railings.