The City of Portland moved their Public Works department out of the West Bayside neighborhood with a goal of spurring urban residential infill development in a neighborhood that had been home to industrial and municipal uses for decades. The City created a competitive RFP asking for buildable proposals that would bring active residential and business uses back to the neighborhood. We entered the competition with a proposal to build twenty Workforce Housing apartments with no State or Federal subsidy and were selected by the City of Portland to convert one of their parking lots into homes.
Parris Terraces was designed to create affordable homes for people making up to 120% of median income. In the current Maine and national housing market, this is unheard of. We applied our policies of sustainability in design to Parris Terraces by using the Passive House techniques that we have perfected in other projects. We specified and detailed advanced air sealing methods and a fully thermally broken building enclosure. 24-hour fresh air ventilation systems were installed with heat recovery, cold climate air source heat pumps, and advanced air sealing to create an optimized cost-effective system that has people’s health in mind and requires no fossil fuels to heat or cool.
The project has a predicted overall energy use of 50% of a typical apartment building, all without renewable energy systems installed. The entire building uses low embodied energy, carbon sequestering materials. The wood-framed building has dense-packed cellulose insulation, and there is only one piece of structural steel in the whole project. The siding on the ground floor is Maine white cedar. We avoided high embodied carbon products like spray foams, steel, concrete, and aluminum as much as possible. All interior materials are similarly low emitting and without toxins of concern.
Parris Terraces is located near the tidal basin Back Cove – recently named an EPA area of concern. To protect this natural resource, we designed a system where all storm water from the building is treated onsite through a storm water rain garden. This is a FocalPoint system, where water from the roof and graded parking lot is funneled through weathering steel weirs. The water cascades through filtration zones of different native plantings and soil types and so never joins the general storm-water runoff. In addition, weathering steel sheet piling was used to retain existing trees on the site.