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Please find below the judging results for your proposal.

Finalist Evaluation

Judges'' comments


The basic concept of mixed-income housing isn't a new one- e.g. HUD has attempted many projects on this model, and has published extensively some of the success stories and lessons learnt. On this note, I am struggling to evaluate what the innovative aspects of the proposal are - the green or sustainable measures proposed aren't something new, and are being attempted in projects elsewhere. So it really comes down to the technology aspects- i.e. how the author proposes getting to net zero. That is where I feel the proposal is the weakest- the two major technology components of this aspect- the vertical axis wind turbines and the universal ceiling fan are not practical or have not been explored in more detail. While I applaud the author for making a strong narrative by taking a big picture view, what this proposal really needs is depth in the details.

Semi-Finalist Evaluation

Judges'' ratings


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Judges'' comments


Comments from Judge 1:
The proposal focuses on a specific demonstration site for urban transformation at much higher density and with zero net energy buildings. This is an important approach It identifies a number of key factors important in enhancing amenity and functionality, while considering the economics. The proposal is repetitive. It is linked to other submissions in other areas, but the fundamental design approach does not depend on the other submissions - fortunately, as some of them, eg urban wind energy, may have limited outcomes. The economic analysis is rough - for example no value seems to be attributed to the land, which seems to be publicly owned at present. The cost of the ZEB features seems high. No reference is made to whether the local authority is interested in pursuing the project. The staging of transition is not discussed in the submission, but the pictures suggest that it may be staged. This is important, as existing residents need to be housed during the development process.

Comments from Judge 2:
This proposal is very pragmatic and interesting in that it combines a feasible financial model (already adopted by social housing providers in other countries even though without the equity option seen in this proposal) with the vision for a net zero development. Technical aspects of the proposed development require further development/explanation to be considered implementable. I assume the design is just a scheme with large scope for improvement. Social aspects require more attentions, including the careful integration of middle class and low income families as well as the relocation of families which my have developed personal attachment to their homes over a number of years.

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Emil Jacob

Nov 5, 2017
05:47

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Dear Judge 1

I will list in bold italics the questions you posted followed by my answers:

The economic analysis is rough - for example no value seems to be attributed to the land, which seems to be publicly owned at present.

I corrected the total number of  existing low income units on site from 400 to 294 as listed at affordablehousingonline.com

I also reduced the number of total apartments for the project from 4000 to 3000 which is more correct per buildings shown in the image.

I considered the value of the land as zero (or neutral) in this case because it is owned by the city which would be the sponsor for the project; however I will assume that the land has to be bought privately. I estimated the land for the area 1000 by 1000 feet at $500/SF to cost $500 mil.

I agree that the land cost is important as we are seeking a blueprint for sustainable communities outside the low income housing land availability.

The proposal as a model for redevelopment low income housing projects is simply a bridge that affords opportunities (via land owned by cities) to cover the higher costs for developing the technologies for zero energy buildings and ultimately the blueprint for similar sustainable  communities that have a higher quality of life than housing both in the suburbs and in the cities at a LOWER COST.

The cost of the ZEB features seems high.

I assumed higher costs per apartment at $250k  (versus $85k average construction cost for high end apartments) because it also included the cost of developing  at least 200,000 SF of commercial spaces (also added the sale value of the commercial space in the calculation above). As a safety buffer I wanted to go with the higher costs to cover development of vertical axis windmills on the roofs and other features such as the covering of the roofs with vegetation, water recycling, and use of rain water and many more.

COMPOSTING AND RECYCLING INFRASTRUCTURE

The higher costs per apartment also include development of waste management facilities on site including dedicated spaces in each apartment and on each floor for collecting composting, Composting is an important feature for reducing greenhouse gasses.

"composting directlyreduces carbon dioxide (CO2) and other powerfulgreenhouse gases, like methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O). Composting is an effective way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. ... Landfills are the single largest human source of methane emissions in the world."                                 http://www.lhpowerandlight.org/benefits-of-composting.html

Each apartment will have access to composting.

An advanced  system for convenient hygienic and efficient composing  will be required which allows every apartment to dispose all related food items directly from the kitchen. The compost containers can be collected by special vehicles in the underground area of the building.

There will be a greater spectrum of recyclables collection including a space dedicated on every floor (or at least in every building) to dispose separately of textiles, electronics, wood products  and more rather than just glass and plastic as we have today. Using the above features the project has  a “zero landfill policy”

COMMERCIAL SPACES

The cost per apartment also includes the construction costs of commercial spaces on the lower floors. The apartment complex may own parts of the commercial  spaces. This ownership provides solid revenues to afford the advanced waste management and the NO LANDFILL policy where services will need to be paid to collect the compost and recycle other materials.  

Additionally, the ownership of the commercial spaces, especially on the ground floor, allows the community to make decisions regarding optimal services needed. For example, if there is a shortage of medical offices, or restaurants, daycare etc, these can be given a priority for the new leases.

The higher costs per apartment also cover electric infrastructure for car charging. Only fully electric vehicles are permitted to owners while each building will also have a large enough fleet of Zip Cars etc to meet demand as comfortably as with ownership.

No reference is made to whether the local authority is interested in pursuing the project.

The proposal is very new and I developed it in the current semester in my masters program in Design for Human Health at the Boston Architectural College. I did not have time to contact the decision makers but spoke with a few architects familiar with the process and they believe the project is feasible (and highly profitable for the city). However I will ask for a meeting with the Cambridge Housing Authority and City Council to have their feedback and explore the possibilities for setting up an initiative that might be named Affordable Housing Renewal.

The staging of transition is not discussed in the submission, but the pictures suggest that it may be staged. This is important, as existing residents need to be housed during the development process.

PHASED TRANSITION – MINIMAL DISRUPTION

The transition in this particular project can work with minimal disturbance to the existing occupants if planned in phases.  The starting point will only require the temporary relocation from the site of residents in one building until a new one is completed. The new building, at 10-20 stories will have a capacity to house more residents than the number returning from temporary relocation. As such the residents from other buildings can move directly into the new apartments to allow for construction to proceed. To ensure diversity the existing residents will not be housed in a single building but rather given the choice to select which new building they prefer.

EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION, EDUCATION, AWARENESS

A vital element to the success of the project is effective and open communication with the current residents and reassurance that the project is not meant to displace them but rather to provide them with apartments twice the size, and at a cost equal or lower than their current payments.

-----------------------------

Dear Judge 2,

 

Thank you for your feedback. I include your comments in bold italics with my answers below.

This proposal is very pragmatic and interesting in that it combines a feasible financial model (already adopted by social housing providers in other countries even though without the equity option seen in this proposal) with the vision for a net zero development. Technical aspects of the proposed development require further development/explanation to be considered implementable

 

In order to allow for the costs needed to develop some of the technical aspects for the project the cost per apartment is assumed at triple the cost of a high end apartment. Not all the proposed technical aspects are required in order to accomplish the goals of low to zero emissions. For example the Universal Ceiling Fan designed to electrify the heating systems can be developed at a later stage for a future project while implementing existing technologies for efficient, electrified heating.

The essence of the proposal is to develop an attractive model for spacious, high quality, high density community living that is also sustainable and by adhering to two major requirements:

  • NO FOSSIL FUELS
  • NO LANDFILLS

It is a roundabout and counterintuitive way of arriving to sustainable living. That is developing high quality living at a low cost (using economies of scale at about 3000 apartments) while embedding all the sustainable feature. The vision I have is that such a project will offer a large apartment at as much as 2000 Sq. Feet with extensive terraces as private outdoor space, as well as many features such as community, large park and many on site services in a way that is superior in quality and price to the average house as well at the average apartment. Bringing to market this model will create a new demand, and even a new market that provides a higher quality of life which in the process will move away from sprawl as well as from fossil fuels.

The diagram below shows sequentially the move from creating sustainable high quality

The term “quality of life” is more significant here than it seems. Currently there are severe issues of isolation and depression because of the design of cities and suburbs throughout the western world, especially in the US.  For a healthy and happy development children need to be able to step out of their home and find other children to play with in green spaces, trees, and nature in general. Extensive literature and data shows the unhealthy psychological effects on children growing in the suburbs as well as in apartment buildings deprived of the vital element of social play with dire consequences on long term mental health

This proposal eliminates  the problem of finding playdates as wells ad driving to playdates. The same need for social interaction applies to adults as well. Furthermore the complex includes many sporting amenities from swimming and even skating in the winter providing recreation space in the company of familiar people. One of the strongest features in human evolution is dependence on our peers at all times for survival. Easy and effortless visual and verbal contact with others is a natural requirement of which modern society has deprived humans causing epidemic levels of depression, anxiety and isolation.  The blueprint for the sustainable communities takes this factor into account and it arguably solves the problem.

I assume the design is just a scheme with large scope for improvement. Social aspects require more attentions, including the careful integration of middle class and low income families as well as the relocation of families which may have developed personal attachment to their homes over a number of years.

 

Yes the transition has to be planned with careful phasing which I listed above. From my interviews with residents I was told that they value the close relationships with their next door neighbors. Thus the occupants will be given options to move next to one another as they desire in the new buildings.

Integration with the middle class population needs to be considered carefully. Given the amenities, comfort and security of the new site there are few stumbling expected blocks. But all contingencies and potential mistakes need to be carefully considered beforehand and ensure that communication and feedback from occupants is taken into account. One potential mistake could be to concentrate the low income occupants in one or two buildings because of the logistical element.

Regarding the attachment to the existing building, the feedback I received from exiting residents was almost entirely negative, from the design of the outdoor stairs, apartments being too small, visual semblance of the buildings  to barracks, or what is known in the design jargon as “institutional.”

The new residences will be twice in square footage and significantly more attractive in terms of natural light, layout, amenities and more; so it is reasonable to assume that the attachment to the buildings themselves may well be compensated by the many benefits.

 

 

 


Emil Jacob

Nov 17, 2017
05:47

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Lower emissions per person are also obtained via higher density.  The proposed Wholistic  Community design has a higher density by nearly a factor of ten compared to the suburbs while providing same sized homes as in the suburbs and with a superior quality of life.

The essential value proposition in this model is a blueprint for habitation design providing a higher quality of life and general human health than the typical suburban home or apartment complex as an avenue and a means towards developing a fossil-fuel-free residential model. 

The higher quality of life is provided via onsite availability of

-          1. design with opportunities for rich community life including attractive green areas, parks and playgrounds

-          2. on-site services including, shopping, medical, daycare and preschool and more

 

-          3. Common body of water that serves as swimming pool, skating, recreation

        

-          4. Extensive sporting facilities both indoor and outdoor

 

-          5. High quality apartments with abundant natural light, large balconies / terraces, size apartments over 2100 SF – larger than the average suburban home at 2000 SF

 

-       6. Mobile enclosure for sheep, goats etc. increasing human health -  calming and enchanting effect as well as environmental benefits

        

  

-          7. Financial resources for the community via ownership of commercial spaces providing rental income to the community > part of which can be used to subsidize the purchase of green energy

         

 

Sustainability:

A. All apartments are designed to work entirely on electric power for cooking and heating.

As a way to accomplish electric heat at a competitive cost with natural gas I proposed the Universal Ceiling Fan- Heating, Cooling, Superior Ambiance Without Fossil Fuels https://www.climatecolab.org/contests/2017/buildings/phase/1318712/proposal/1334045

I believe this is a superior method for accomplishing  home ambiance in both cost and quality when compared to traditional HVAC that uses fossil fuels for heating. One of the way in which the proposal uses low levels of energy is via sensors that detect human presence and only activate the energy use where humans are present.

 

B. No Landfills

 

C. Less travel (via available services on site)

 

CONCLUSION

 

Ultimately the proposal creates a wholistic approach to providing both a higher quality of life and a fossil -fuel-free & landfill-free way of habitation. 

The proposal advocates a system of evaluating  a home in the future by Human Health Criteria listed of above features 1-6 and sustainability criteria A, B and C

With economies of scale and advances in technology the cost of homes in Wholistic  Community models will be competitive and likely cheaper than the alternatives and thus pave the way to a fossil fuel free habitation


Emil Jacob

Nov 29, 2017
05:10

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I believe a more appropriate title for the proposal is HOLISTIC COMMUNITY DESIGN (HCD) - which I plan to update if the proposal makes it to Finalist.

 

I would add an 8th item to the seven features that make the Holistic Community Design model desirable for its high quality of life.

            8) Allocated facilities for Telecommuting - Each  community has sufficient subsidized office spaces on site allocated for telecommuting for all the occupants that request it. For example at about $200/month anyone in the complex can rent an office with related facilities for telecommuting office space. This feature will increase the number of telecommuters by making it more acceptable for employers given a formal office space. Therefore will contribute to a higher quality of life and lower emissions via less commuting.

 

The HCM provides a model for habitation with

High density – approx. 40k people per Sq. mile. – each community fits about 10k per ONE FOURTH of a square mile

High quality of life  - via features listed 1-8

Fossil-fuel-free habitation  - via features listed in A, B and C; and parts of features 1-8

 

Given the superior quality of life offered by the HCD model there is reason to believe that the model will become attractive and eventually become a significant segment in the future of housing markets. In the image below is an example in Cambridge, MA of a land area currently underused by its extensive allocation as parking lots and single floor shopping plaza.

Cities have an abundant number of such malls and parking lots that can be converted to HCD models. The image below shows a start with additional HCD complexes in a city such as Cambridge, MA.

In about two decades the HCM model can proliferate to become the dominant model. In an optimistic scenario a metro area  such as Boston there may be as many as 100 HCMs. With each community having about 10,000 people this would result in sustainable habitation for over one million people as well as a dramatic  drop in urban sprawl which further helps the ecosystem. Urban sprawl is known to be a great factor impacting emissions.

Given the above scenario the HCM model can be one of the most efficient ways to have an impact on greenhouse gas emission. Over two decades even if it was to attract only 10 percent of the US population to such housing it would have a domino effect on moving away from habitation using fossil fuels and extensive commutes and urban sprawl.


Emil Jacob

Dec 11, 2017
03:51

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Given the potential as described above, I believe that the impact on CO2  - both for the US and globally - can be estimated  as follows:

Estimated emission reductions from this proposal (relative to BAU) if the proposal is fully adopted:

2020 - 1%         2030 - 5%          2040 - 20%            2050 - 30%   

 

Estimated percentage adoption 

2020 - 3%         2030 - 5%          2040 - 20%            2050 - 30%   

The estimates take in account the reduction in emissions from travel needed to commute to work, daycare and various services and recreation, which are going to be available within the Holistic Community Design (HCD) model. 

Additionally there will be significant reductions in total CO2  as a result of: 

- reduced urban sprawl - expected strong adoption in the suburbs

-  adoption of net zero energy buildings (or at least renewable energy for heating and cooking) in the process of building  the new HCD model