Chatham Square: Groundbreaking energy-efficient home part of broader commitment to sustainable development in Indiana heartland project

Two years ago, the Bridgeway Apartments in Lafayette, Indiana’s Glen Acres neighborhood were in disrepair and decay. Today, Brinshore’s rehabilitation efforts are transforming the complex into the Chatham Square apartments – a sustainable new development that will bolster community stability and provide affordable housing to local residents. As part of Brinshore’s commitment to building cutting-edge sustainable homes that are efficient, practical and beautiful, one of Chatham Square’s ten new single-family homes will be the IN Home, short for Indiana Home – Purdue University’s award-winning entry in this year’s national U.S. Department of Energy 2011 Solar Decathlon.

Purdue University’s ultra-efficient IN Home uses solar panels, smart design and a range of other cutting edge innovations that include a biowall to generate surplus energy, rather than drain energy from the power grid. IN Home has scored top marks in a range of categories – including affordability – without sacrificing comfort or livability, and Brinshore hopes that by hosting IN Home at Chatham Square, more residents will come to appreciate that zero-energy, sustainably built homes are within the price range and reach of modest-income families.

For the larger project, Brinshore is replacing 27 dilapidated buildings with ten single-family homes – including the IN Home – and a 32-building, 89-unit mixed-income rental complex that includes a community center, computer lab and exercise room.

Environmental responsibility is a core part of Brinshore’s development philosophy, and all of the new Chatham Square apartments are built to support environmental sustainability, an approach that Brinshore works to incorporate into every development project. That approach increases the affordability of living in Chatham Square for future residents and helps cut energy use, greenhouse gas emissions and other burdens on the environment. Six buildings will be LEED certified, and all buildings are Energy Star Certified. One building received a Home Energy Rating System, or HERS, of 57 – 43% better than what the local energy code requires.

The development embraces ‘new urbanist’ principles that promote diverse, walkable neighborhoods, access to public transportation, accessible apartments and public spaces, and architecture and landscape design that celebrates local history, climate, ecology, and best building practices. While the old Bridgeway Apartments overlooked a sea of parking lots, the new construction provides residents with a view of the park and surrounding green areas. Five distinct styles of architecture are used – from single-story Queen Anne to two-story Italianate structures – and each unit has a private entrance. The area’s bus stop has been replaced with a soaring new wooden shelter that abuts a large, welcoming plaza that also serves as a central gathering place. The development includes a range of amenities, including community gardens, a tot lot, and tennis courts. One of the project’s most beautiful features is its seven acres of green walking trails and the adjacent pond and gazebo in Munger Park.

With funding from the Neighborhood Stabilization Program, Brinshore is creating a space that not only replaces the rundown Bridgeway Apartments, but that rejuvenates the nearby community, as well. Long-time are residents have expressed their enthusiasm for the revitalization effort, and the list of local people interested in purchasing apartments in the new Chatham Square complex continues to grow.

“Chatham Square is the flagship of the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority’s Neighborhood Stabilization Program,” said Peter Hunt, Chatham’s program manager. “We are looking to Chatham Square to provide a template for how to revitalize communities hit hard by the foreclosure crisis.”

The focus on simultaneously bringing new life to a troubled site and the community around the development is emblematic of a new approach to community building – the shared effort to create affordable housing developments that are long term assets to the community while also fostering community and economic stabilization. Locally sourced labor, suppliers, and contractors are being tapped for the construction work, as a way to rejuvenate the local economy and reinvest in the community.

At Brinshore, we’re committed to transforming troubled housing into sustainable developments that give back to the neighborhood and create a better environment for all who reside in the community.

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