TRANSFORMATIVE CLIMATE COMMUNITIES
YMCA Builds New Jersey’s First ‘Passive House’ for Low-Income Residents
Raritan Bay Area YMCA
Innovative and compassionate. These words describe the Raritan Bay Area YMCA’s latest permanent housing project in Perth Amboy. With generous funding from HUD, the Middlesex County Commissioners, and the New Jersey Climate Change Resource Center at Rutgers University, the Y is constructing a new two-family home using green building and passive design elements. This home will be the first passive house designed for low-income households in New Jersey. The Y has been partnering with architects, builders, and energy consultants familiar with passive housing design and construction to incorporate ways to minimize the building’s environmental impact, provide healthy indoor air quality, promote energy efficiency, and reduce energy costs.
The project will provide permanent supportive housing through a Housing First model and a 30-year deed restriction. The residential building will incorporate an ERV (energy recovery ventilation) system, ductless mini split HVAC (i.e., installed in the wall, ceiling, and floor, and connected to an exterior compressor) with cooling & heating. The building will be electrified, with intended 70–72-degree indoor temps year-round. Triple pane Wythe windows will be incorporated, and the two-story building is designed to be ADA-compliant.
Once completed, the home is intended to serve as a model for other non-profit developers looking to provide affordable housing while, at the same time, reducing the environmental impacts of new construction. An evaluation will be done post-occupancy to understand lessons learned during the project development phase and the residents’ experiences living within the units. It will provide other non-profit housing developers with a model for affordable and sustainable housing.
This new home, one of eight properties with 36 affordable units owned and managed by the YMCA in Perth Amboy, is the result of the Y’s commitment and dedication to addressing environmental justice issues. Perth Amboy is a community where residents historically experience higher pollution rates, less green space, homelessness, and domestic violence. The Y’s mission of creating a healthy community for everyone is seen in the effort and dedication of the team responsible for this project. The team is also involved with Resilient NJ projects, studying and addressing community concerns about the impact on surface water (pluvial flooding) and waterway (fluvial) flooding. Together, these two projects respond to climate change and its effects on the community.