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Published on April 4th, 2007 | by Philip Proefrock

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Green Building Tour: Plaza Apartments

Meeting area with natural lighting and outdoor viewsOne of the outstanding housing projects recognized last year by the AIA Housing Knowledge Community for its "Show You're Green" awards was the Plaza Apartments in San Francisco CA.The building is a nine-story structure with 106 very small (approximately 300 square feet) apartments for very low income and formerly homeless residents.

The ground floor includes space for a credit union and other retail uses and a theater space for a nonprofit theater who had been in the small building on the site before the construction of this building. Space for social workers and medical facilities is also included as part of the development.The building not only incorporates a number of green features, but it is also situated in an urban context with ready access to bus and subway transit (1/10th of a mile (about 160 meters) to the nearest bus stop and half a mile (about .8 km) to the subway entrance). This "transit-oriented development" is a green feature recognized by LEED, among other sources, and also makes particular sense for a community with little access to personal vehicles.Meeting area with natural lighting and outdoor views

Extensive natural lighting and ventialtion are used for the building. The building incorporates overhangs and high performance windows to temper sunlight from overheating the units while allowing winter sun to help to warm them. Corridors end with windows, rather than dead ends, allowing more ventilation and views to the outside.Meeting area with natural lighting and outdoor viewsThe exterior wall panels are a veneer of a fast growing wood that are impregnated with a resin in order to retain their lustrous appearance (and to minimize the need for constant painting or other maintenance). There are solar photovoltaic panels on the roof which supply more than 10% of the building's energy needs. Rainwater is also collected and irrigates the courtyard.

The Plaza Apartments were designed for LEED Silver certification.

Building Information: Location: San Francisco CAArchitect: Paulett Taggart Architects (with Leddy, Maytum, Stacy Architects)Links: CoolTownStudios San Francisco Chronicle

Finland Color Plywood (photos)AIA Housing "Show You're Green"




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About the Author

Philip Proefrock is an architect and photographer in southeast Michigan. He is also a LEED Acredited Professional. His professional involvement with green building includes working as project architect for the award-winning Malletts Creek Branch Library for the Ann Arbor District Library, which received the 2005 AIA Michigan Sustainable Design Award, and which was the first completed commercial vegetated roof (green roof) in the state of Michigan. He is an active member of Green Drinks Michigan/o2 Network. In addition to being lead writer for Green Building Elements, he is also a contributing writer for EcoGeek.org and for JetsonGreen.com. spurious nelogism (personal LiveJournal) Green Options articles StumbleUpon profile



2 Responses to Green Building Tour: Plaza Apartments

  1. Preston says:

    Nice post Philip. This is a cool project. Very cool. Something I’m starting to notice is that the lower portion of the economic pyramid, at least in the US, see,s to be underserved in green areas. I like that this project is targeted to helping this group.

  2. Preston says:

    Nice post Philip. This is a cool project. Very cool. Something I’m starting to notice is that the lower portion of the economic pyramid, at least in the US, see,s to be underserved in green areas. I like that this project is targeted to helping this group.

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