Philadelphia Housing Authority unveils its first LEED-Certified development in North Philadelphia

PHA press release
The Philadelphia Housing Authority has taken another step into the future with the grand opening of its first high-performance, LEED-certified green development, the new Norris Apartments.

This dedication ceremony is little more than a  year after the wrecking ball demolished the outdated high rise.

The new development, located adjacent to Temple University in North Philadelphia, meets the requirements of the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) building certification program.

The program focuses on five key areas of environmental and human health: energy efficiency, indoor environmental quality, materials selection, sustainable site development, and water savings. LEED standards are nationally accepted for the design, construction, and operation of high-performance green buildings.

“I am happy to announce the completion of this cutting-edge development which represents PHA’s progressive and environmentally conscious approach to affordable housing,” said PHA Administrative Receiver/Executive Director Michael P. Kelly. “The new Norris is a win-win for the residents, the city and the environment because these houses are modern, sustainable, and affordable.”

Kelly, an architect with a LEED Green Associate Certification, noted that the new development will save in energy costs compared to most conventional developments. The new Norris contains 51 units in a mix of walkups and townhomes on the same block where a 1950s high-rise once stood. It features a small pocket park in the center courtyard that provides green space to residents while limiting rainwater runoff into the city sewer system.

The site is also hosting a pilot project with the Philadelphia Water Department to reduce stormwater runoff from adjacent streets. The project is in line with the City’s stormwater management plan that was recently approved by the EPA, making Philadelphia one of the greenest and most innovative places to live.

The new homes at Norris also have solar hot water panels on the roof, Energy Star windows, equipment and appliances, low flow plumbing fixtures, compact fluorescent light (CFL) fixtures, and native landscaping. The design of the new development also features cross ventilation.

All the topsoil at the site is recycled post-consumer compost, made from recycled food scraps and yard waste which helps reduce landfill waste that creates harmful greenhouse gases. To meet LEED standards, the agency also used locally made materials for the new Norris as much as possible.

This reduced PHA’s “carbon footprint” by reducing the amount of energy it took to transport building materials to the site. The new, transit-oriented development is located near a variety of educational and retail services. The location is well served by the Broad Street subway, several SEPTA bus routes, and Regional Rail lines.

Temple University’s main campus and the well-established commercial corridor of Broad Street are also close by. The new Norris Apartments complement ongoing private housing and commercial development in the neighborhood. There is room at the site to build more homes and Kelly said PHA will evaluate whether to add to the original 51 units at a later point.

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