Tuesday, January 5, 2010

NOPA's Greenest, Most Sustainable Building With Its Cool Permeable Sidewalks

Zygmunt Arendt House

Golden Gate Avenue side with permeable landscaping and recycled granite

Broderick Street side, close-up, ready for landscaping

NOPA starts the New Year with the imminent opening of its newest and largest development and a first in the neighborhood to apply extensive green construction principles. The Zygmunt Arendt House is a 47 unit affordable housing project at 850 Broderick that anchors the intersection with Golden Gate and extends downhill nearly half way. Although the price tag for the privately-funded development is high at more than $16 million, the building exterior pleasantly recalls the nearby Victorian and Edwardian architecture and promises to enliven a long dormant corner of the neighborhood. Construction began more than a year ago and is expected to be completed early in 2010. The building features several sustainable, “green” enhancements including:

· An energy-efficient structure, or “envelope,” and mechanical systems

· Photo-voltaic rooftop panels

· Planter boxers and open sidewalk areas that retain storm water runoff

The Arent House benefits from the environmental standards set by the city in 2005 for new low-income housing. The green construction elements will establish the Arent House as the most sustainable and “greenest” building in NOPA.

Before focusing on one sustainable aspect of NOPA’s newest residential project – the impressive commitment to “permeable sidewalks” – let’s take a look at who our newest neighbors will be. The Zygmunt Arendt House will serve formerly homeless elders, providing them with on-site support services and skills training. The undertaking is a joint development project of the Community Housing Partnership (CHP) and the Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corporation. CHP is a San Francisco-based non-profit with a clear focus on creating and implementing “solutions to homelessness,” and the organization has set ambitious goals for the Arent House:

  • Ensure that 97% of clients retain permanent housing
  • Help 75% of residents seeking jobs to find work
  • Develop staff so 50% are former homeless people

Project staff is committed to being good North Panhandle neighbors as well. Several members introduced themselves and briefly described their work at last November’s meeting of the North of the Panhandle Neighborhood Association (NOPNA).

Stop by the construction site of the Arendt House now to watch the installation of NOPA’s largest expanse of concrete-free, permeable sidewalks. These cut-out areas along the Broderick and Grove sides of the building drain stormwater run-off and reduce the burden on San Francisco’s water treatment plants. They also create much-needed open spaces for trees and plants along our streets and sidewalks. Even covering the concrete-free spaces with loose stones or other natural or man-made materials opens the soil to air and water.

Other than the skinny sidewalks of Divisadero Street, NOPA is fortunate to have many broad pedestrian stretches especially along its north-south streets. Most of these could easily accommodate their own permeable segments, perhaps as extensions to existing cut-outs for new and existing street trees. Find out how to green your sidewalk at PlantSF and look for future BIKE NOPA posts on permeable sidewalks.

1 comment:

  1. Update: Expect a neighborhood tour of Arendt House in the next several weeks. Additional livability aspects: the complex provides only four parking spaces and staff will be encouraged to use transit and bicycle. NOPA neighbors can help new Arendt House residents get accustomed to the neighborhood: how about offering walking tours?