Green Construction and Renovation

Victory Townhomes Mutual Housing Community

Our green building journey began in 2002, when we installed solar panels at Victory Townhomes Mutual Housing Community to offset residents’ energy use, thereby saving them money on their utility bills. Victory was the first multifamily property in Sacramento County to incorporate solar energy production.

Victory Townhomes Mutual Housing Community has solar panels on each of its 21 townhomes, as well as integrated solar roof tile in the large building that houses the manager’s office, computer learning lab, and community meeting spaces.


Mutual Housing at the Highlands

Mutual Housing has always planned its new affordable communities with consideration to many factors that are now more widely-understood as green – for example, proximity to public transit and other key amenities such as parks and grocery shopping, and energy efficiency of the site and building layouts.

With our community in North Highlands, which opened in the fall of 2011, staff raised this consciousness of the importance of green construction to a new level, making green elements a top priority from start to finish.

Mutual Housing at the Highlands is our first GreenPoint Rated community. Whereas it only takes 50 points on the application for this rating to earn the designation, Highlands received 121 points. This is the highest Build It Green score to date for any project in Sacramento and Yolo Counties.

Here are some of the features that earned this excellent score:

• A very high level of energy efficiency. On average the buildings at Highlands exceed Title 24 standards by 17 percent. Some buildings exceed the standards by as much as 40 percent. This is due in part to the use of high-efficiency, utility bill-reducing heating and air conditioning units, which include evaporative cooling systems in some of the larger units.

• Two types of solar technology: photovoltaic solar panels that generate electricity, and solar thermal tubes that provide hot water for the community laundry areas:

• Use of pre-cut lumber and diversion of 60 percent of construction waste to recycling by the construction contractor.

• Reduced space for parking, with less than 1.5 spaces per unit.

• Pedestrian accessibility to public transit and community amenities.

• Energy-efficient appliances and tankless water heaters in all the individual apartments.

• High indoor air quality, thanks to the use of low-VOC and low-formaldehyde paint, adhesives, counter-tops and cabinets.

• Use of highly-durable materials, such as 40-year roofs, that will not need replacement as early as standard materials.

• Use of drought-resistant plants and a smart irrigation system that receives signals from a local weather station, providing highly localized information on current weather conditions.

• Installation of water-saving faucets, shower heads and toilets throughout.

Thanks to many of these green elements, Mutual Housing at the Highlands also successfully completed the California Multi-Family New Homes incentive program, sponsored by PG&E.


Mutual Housing at Foothill Farms

As we incorporate green principles into our new construction plans, we are equally invested in the importance of green renovation at our existing communities. In Early 2013 we completed an extensive green retrofit project at Mutual Housing at Foothill Farms.

Using federal stimulus funds available through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Office of Affordable Housing Preservation, we upgraded all wall heating/cooling units, ceiling fans, lighting fixtures and refrigerators to more energy-efficient models. All water fixtures were fitted with aerators to reduce water consumption, and floors were replaced with green-label materials.

The retrofit also included installation of smart irrigation and solar-thermal water heating systems, as well as more efficient siding, insulation and cool (heat-reflecting) roofs that provide a more comfortable living environment while saving energy and reducing residents’ energy costs.

Some of Mutual Housing at Foothill Farms’ solar-thermal heating panels:

Armed with energy use and cost data from prior to the green renovations at Foothill Farms, our staff conducted an assessment to measure the savings generated by the improvements. Another round of infrastructure retrofits to improve water conservation and energy were completed in 2017.


Mutual Housing at Norwood

Our green rehab efforts at Mutual Housing at Norwood were made possible with support from the Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Agency, as well as our steadfast national sponsor NeighborWorks America.

Features at the Norwood green project included upgrades to energy-efficient heating, air conditioning and lighting, faucet aerators and low-flow toilets. Also new is an array of water-saving landscape improvements, alongside a smart irrigation system that includes sensors to measure soil moistness – thus eliminating system activation during rainy weather.

The Norwood project qualified Mutual Housing California for our first Build It Green certification for a rehab project. The work began in March 2011 and was completed in August 2012.


Davis Communities

In 2013 Solar photovoltaic retrofits were completed at all four of our existing Mutual Housing communities in Davis: Twin Pines Mutual Housing Community, Owendale Mutual Housing Community, Tremont Green Mutual Housing Community, and Moore Village Mutual Housing Community.

These projects were funded by federal energy tax credits and PG&E’s Multifamily Affordable Solar Housing (MASH) Program. The solar energy generated by the panels will be sold back to PG&E and will reduce the electricity costs for residents and for the property.


New Harmony Mutual Housing Community

New Harmony Mutual Housing Community, opened in February 2013, took the work we did at Mutual Housing at the Highlands to an even higher green standard. Remember all the green features you read about above at Highlands, and then picture all of that on (organic!) steroids:

Even more solar photovoltaic panels, generating more energy (and thus more cost-savings) to offset resident and staff use in living units and in the community center. Higher indoor air quality thanks to paints, trims, shelving, doors and counter-tops even lower in VOC and formaldehyde content. Minimal turf, super-high-efficiency irrigation, drought-resistant plantings and soils. More recycled-material finishes.

New Harmony Mutual Housing Community is the first affordable family housing in the City of Davis to be GreenPoint Rated by Build It Green, with the impressive score of 197. It will also meet the stringent Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED™) certification standards.

New Harmony Mutual Housing Community is also currently enrolled in the California Multi-Family New Homes incentive program, sponsored by PG&E. The percentage above Title 24 energy-efficiency standards at the time of enrollment was 52%, based on an average of all residential units/buildings.

New Harmony Mutual Housing Community won the “Best Community Project” honor as part of Green Builder magazine’s Home of the Year 2013 awards:



Mutual Housing at Spring Lake

Mutual Housing at Spring Lake is the first certified zero net energy rental development in the nation. Primarily through the use of photovoltaics, the property will generate at least as much energy as it consumes. This is an extremely cutting-edge accomplishment for the affordable housing field, and for the construction industry in general.

Mutual Housing at Spring Lake is certified by U.S. Department of EnergyEnergyStar , Enterprise Green Communities, and LEED, and will be GreenPoint Rated.

These certifications are achieved by meeting strict performance guidelines that cover one or all green building strategies that relate to Energy Efficiency, Indoor Air Quality, Resource Conservation, Water Conservation and Sustainable Community Living, which are set by the U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Star Rated Homes program, U.S. Green Building Council, and Enterprise Green Communities program.

Energy and water efficiency features include innovative electric heat pumps, a 209 kilowatt photovoltaic system, LED lighting, tenant energy usage monitors, extremely well-sealed and insulated buildings, low-flow toilets, water-saving showerheads, and drought tolerant landscaping.  The shower heads have automatic cutoffs that reduce water flow to a trickle when water goes from cold to hot until an individual enters the shower instead of wasting water and electricity when no one is yet in the shower.

Mutual Housing at Spring Lake is all-electric. There is no gas operated appliance or system. To help residents reach the zero net-energy goal the community was designed for, each apartment or townhome has a color-coded energy monitor that shows real-time use: green means efficient, yellow typical, and red above normal. By limiting electricity use to typical household ranges for which the system was designed, individuals families should not have to pay for utilities. In addition to increasing housing affordability, this incentive has the potential to build enduring energy conservation habits through encouraging energy consumption HIA Zero Home Winner Logo 2014_v1awareness.

Mutual Housing at Spring Lake was honored with a “Housing Innovation – Multi Family” award as part of Sacramento Housing Alliance‘s 2015 annual awards dinner.  Mutual Housing at Spring Lake was selected as a 2015 Housing Innovation Award (HIA) winner by the U.S. Department of Energy. In early 2016 Mutual Housing at Spring Lake received LEED platinum certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.

Click for more info about The Impacts of Climate Change on Human Health in the U.S.

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