Gallery: Palm Springs’ Rosa Gardens Affordable Housing Achieves LEED Go...

The inside of each apartment features low-flow fixtures, natural linoleum flooring and CFL lighting.

Rosa Gardens was constructed on an urban infill lot and it offers 57 units of 2 or 3 bedroom apartments. The project also includes a common laundry room, a community room, a pool, bike racks, a basketball court, a recycling area, and other family amenities. Solar passive design was the driving force behind Brooks + Scarpa‘s vision – they used this green building strategy to minimize solar heat gain and energy use. Building orientation, shaping, shading, glazing, and natural ventilation were all were taken into consideration during the design phase. In total, the strategies amounted to a 30% reduction in energy use compared to California’s Title 24 standards.

The team also managed to recycle more than 75% of the project’s construction materials – and many of the building materials themselves are recycled to begin with. The insulation is made from recycled newspapers, the carpet has a high recycled content, and the exterior cladding was locally fabricated from aluminum cans. The inside of each apartment features low-flow fixtures, natural linoleum flooring and CFL lighting. The project will soon install a solar thermal heating system that will provide domestic hot water and heat the pool.

+ Brooks + Scarpa

Images ©Brooks + Scarpa


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  1. BrooksScarpa February 10, 2012 at 1:52 am

    Thanks for your input. It is definitely a balance between a cost/benefit analysis, local availability, maintenance of the material and life cycle. Rosa Gardens uses common materials such as stucco, concrete block and metal panels and utilizes recycled-content materials only where it makes sense, certainly not just for the green rating at the exclusion of other issues. Palm Springs sits in the Coachella Valley, which is part of the 13th largest metropolitan area in the United States, the Inland Empire, so it is actually closer than one might think to things like building materials and supplies. More important than materials, though, at this location, is water usage and building orientation. Southern California became what it is today because the water came from somewhere else and this project conserves water through smart landscaping and very efficient fixtures. Orienting the building properly, natural cross ventilation, providing shade from the desert sun and reflecting heat from the roof (all low cost ideas), does more for the energy efficiency of this building than adding an entire solar panel array. The long-term maintenance and durability of materials is just as important, if not more, than those that are locally sourced. A large part of the sustainability of a building comes from it’s design, the ‘fundamentals’ for us, and that is always step 1!’

  2. anaglypher_08 February 6, 2012 at 11:49 pm

    in the middle of a desert, i don’t see a way to get recycled construction materials in a radius of less than 50-100Km. the embodied energy of recycled content increases ten folds in such cases. its a waste if we are recycling and transporting it long distances to achieve ratings. this is an anti-thesis of the word “sustainable”. architects like hassan fathy were pioneers of such building typologies. using local materials should be the starting point, at least i can see stone and sand available from the images! its good to grab a green rating but one should consider the fundamentals first.

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