The Parkway is a traditional, garden-style suburban community in Houston, Texas, but what sets the project apart from its garden-style peers is its dedication to green and energy efficient features, earning it a 2019 Best in American Living Award for Green Community.
Sustainability and environmental impact were carefully considered in the design of The Parkway. Green features include energy-efficient vinyl double windows, cool roofs, drip irrigation, detention water tanks, and high-SEER HVAC systems. The stocked lake was dug for irrigation for the community and for pond maintenance.
On the surface, The Parkway contains elegantly appointed studios, apartments, and townhomes set amid 14 acres of landscaped grounds surrounding a two-acre stocked lake. The developer behind the project, Martin Fein Interests Ltd., began with a desire to create a comfortable, family home feel to the project, with captivating amenities including a golf simulation room, and a resort-style pool with a fire pit area next to the lake fishing dock.
Sanford Steinberg, CEO/partner at Steinberg Dickey Collaborative LLP and lead designer for The Parkway, credits the success of The Parkway to the long-term dedication that he and the developer have to the National Green Building Standard (NGBS). Through first-hand experience, they have seen the beneficial tradeoff in making the extra effort to meet NGBS standards to increase the sustainability and marketability of projects. In fact, every project Steinberg Dickey Collaborative undertakes meets, at minimum, bronze level NGBS certification. This achievement adds additional costs to multifamily construction projects like The Parkway, according to Steinberg, but pays dividends in the long-term. “[Certifying to NGBS] is a great marketing tool when leasing the community, and when selling the community for resale; it will get more [interest] and dollars showing [that] it’s certified green,” notes Steinberg.
As a large, multifamily development, The Parkway earns NGBS points for high density, as resources are more efficiently used throughout development and construction. However, energy efficiency and water use efficiency are “where you really have to up your game,” says Steinberg. For The Parkway, this includes upgrading insulation, high performance windows and relocating duct work in the walls for the HVAC system. In Houston, High-SEER HVAC systems can have annual cost savings in the hundreds of dollars. Due to the local building code, each apartment is “in floor;” this means that each unit contains a separate AC system, “inconditioning” the units rather than buildings as a whole. Compartmentalizing units with their own air conditioning systems allows residents to control their own thermostats, reducing over-ventilation and energy consumption that multifamily buildings with central systems may suffer.
On energy-efficiency, Steinberg chooses to take a prescriptive path, which requires a greater variety of products relative to meeting a threshold of performance. The Parkway utilizes a high efficiency, computerized hot water system that uses natural gas to heat. The high performance system also includes environmentally friendly low NOx equipment that requires less construction materials than traditional water heaters, reducing upfront and maintenance costs for management while reducing energy costs for residents every month. Other appliances are ENERGY STAR certified, and units include programmable thermostats.
Water efficiency was one of the biggest challenges for The Parkway, and while the hot water system helps, ENERGY STAR dishwashers and washing machines and low-flow toilets, sinks and showers demonstrate The Parkway going the extra mile on water conservation. Landscaping and water use are even more emphasized in the Southern Texas climate. Controlled drip irrigation and an overall low percentage of turf contribute to water savings.
For more information about NAHB’s sustainable and green building programs, contact Anna Stern. And to stay current on the high-performance residential building sector, follow NAHB’s Sustainability and Green Building team on Twitter.