KCHA invests heavily in constructing new neighborhoods and upgrading decades-old public housing buildings. These projects not only yield quality affordable housing but also conserve resources, maximize land use, maintain water quality, and reduce energy costs for residents with low incomes.
Greenbridge & Seola Gardens
KCHA is replacing two World War II-era public housing developments in White Center. Greenbridge and Seola Gardens are taking shape as mixed-income communities that bring together affordable rental housing with market-rate for-sale homes. They are designed to improve the local environment, conserve resources, and reduce energy use.
All housing in both new neighborhoods meets or exceeds Three-Star Built Green standards. Every building is wired to be solar-ready. Narrower roads, sidewalks, driveways, and parking areas lower the impervious surface area by 20 percent. In addition, Greenbridge features a series of bio-filtration swales that clean surface water runoff. At Seola Gardens, a water quality pond filters surface water before it leaves the site.
The Sixth Place Apartments at Greenbridge are home to the largest residential solar array in the state. Built from 213 panels, it sends up to 50.1 kilowatts of power to the electric grid. Sixth Place also features walls, roofs, and windows insulated to standards well beyond code requirements. All units use Energy Star lighting inside and out. Light tubes reduce the need to use electric lighting during the day.
The nearby Jim Wiley Community Center is powered with a 5 kilowatt solar array. A hydronic heat system keeps the building warm, while an open-air cupola regulates airflow and ventilation. The plaza behind the building covers a water quality vault that filters storm water before it returns to its natural downstream course.
KCHA finished its revitalization of the 262-unit Birch Creek public housing complex in Kent in 2010. All apartments were upgraded with more energy-efficient heating systems, ventilation systems, and insulation. Birch Creek became the first affordable housing community of its kind to meet Four-Star Built Green standards.
One of its buildings features additional resource-saving features. Its roof-mounted solar panels pre-heat the water supply, while dual flush toilets and triple pane windows offer even greater efficiency. The building's energy and water consumption are expected to be close to zero.
The site's 10,800 square-foot Birch Creek Youth Center has been certified LEED Silver by the U.S. Green Building Council. It uses 20 percent less energy than typical buildings of the same size. The Youth Center's exterior sunshades and energy-efficient lighting reduce the heating load by helping keep out the strong afternoon sunlight. Its low-flow toilets and showerheads and waterless urinals reduce potable water use by almost half.
The Village at Overlake Station
Completed in 2001, the Village at Overlake Station reflects a commitment to smart growth. It purposely places affordable housing near jobs, retail stores, and social services. Located next to a transit center in Redmond, it also offers convenient, car-free access to the Eastside. The community's design and location help reduce urban sprawl, limit the need for parking, and ease traffic congestion.
KCHA continues to upgrade older residential complexes throughout the county. Some properties have seen major building envelope changes, such as new energy-efficient windows, increased insulation, and Energy Star roofs. Others now feature more efficient boilers, mini-split heat pumps, energy-efficient lighting, Energy Star bathroom fans, and water-conserving toilets, faucet aerators, and showerheads. The upgrades reduce utility use by 10 to 30 percent.