For my Wild Gift project, Lighten the Load, I conducted energy and water use audits for three existing affordable housing projects in the Boston area. In all three instances, energy and water conservation features were implemented that resulted in cost and resource savings.
Lighten the Load has evolved into the Existing Buildings program, which is one of New Ecology's primary programs. In January 2010, New Ecology hired a dedicated staff person to organize and carry out this work. We are currently working with a number of affordable housing owners to analyze and reduce their water, gas, and electric consumption.
In executing the Lighten the Load program, it was difficult and time consuming to access historical utility information for these buildings to understand their performance. Since then, New Ecology, Inc. has partnered with two other Boston-based entities to create WegoWise, a web based tool that allows multifamily building owners to easily access, benchmark, and track their building's water and energy usage and quantify performance improvements. WegoWise was launched as an independent business entity in March 2010.
New Ecology was recently awarded funding from the Department of Housing and Urban Development to develop a “fast-track” energy audit, financing, and retrofit implementation strategy for affordable housing in Massachusetts. We are so excited to have the opportunity to develop this process further and save more energy, water, and money for affordable housing owners.
In 2011 I became a Certified Passive House Consultant, which means that I have been trained to work with developers who are interested in designing and constructing very low energy use, super insulated buildings to achieve a PHIUS+ passive house certification. These buildings use ~90% less energy for heating and cooling than a typical building built to code. While most passive house projects in the US are single-family homes, there is a growing interest in applying these principles to multi-family buildings, and I am excited to be a part of this movement.