Nuestra Comunidad – ZeroEnergy Design

Innovativ(E+) Ideas -In order to create buildings that complement the adjacent garden area, the project team proposed elements allowing vegetation to grow vertically upon the housing structure.

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Site Plan & Project Description

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Elevations & Sustainable Design

Project Team
Nuestra Comunidad Development Corporation

Architecture, Mechanical Design, & Energy Consulting:
ZeroEnergy Design, PC

Landmark Structures Corporation

Civil Engineering:
DeVellis Zrein, Inc.

LEED Certification:
Conservation Services Group

Land Use Statistics

  • 12,837 sqft Residential
  • Duplex + Triplexes


  • N/A

Community Garden

  • Raised beds, pea patches, fruit orchard

Art Park/Public Open Spaces

  • Events centered around participatory art with a focus on the local community cultures.
  • Art kiosks, sculpture and existing art trellis


  • Electric car charging station
  • 8 car spaces
Community Garden Design
A series of raised beds and pea patches allow residents the opportunity to live a healthier lifestyle, and develop a deep rooted connection with their local neighbors. A fruit orchard will provide the community with fresh fruit and a place to gather in the neighborhood.

The architecture of the buildings encourages plants to grow and thrive on trellises marking the entrance of the units. This allows for deep lush vegetation to blend with the community garden during growing season and creates a soft buffer in between the buildings and the community garden through a shared resident lawn. Art paths guide visitors/gardeners’ throughout the garden, creating hierarchy for both planting beds and orchards. Infrastructure such as small strategically placed “holes” can be placed into the ground to allow temporary public art to be installed during both growth and harvest seasons.

Building Design
P+ includes three, deep green, net positive energy buildings, providing a total of eight units of new housing. Two units are distributed in a duplex building, with three floors of habitable space including a third floor master suite and south facing roof deck. The two triplex buildings on the north end of the property are arranged as flats, with one unit on each floor. Five three bedroom units and a two bedroom accessible unit provide the unit mix in these two buildings. In addition, one of the three bedroom units will provide affordable homeownership for a low income family.

The homes match the size and scale of the surrounding neighborhood, while also sharing clues about their progressive nature. The largest windows face south, the deep window sills illustrate the super-insulated walls, permeable driveways allow for ground water recharge, the stair towers allow for vegetation to grow vertically, and the adjacent community gardens with public art encourage meaningful outdoor living.

Sustainable Design
P+ provides its residents with composting bins, a garden shed, and covered parking with solar photovoltaics for charging an electric car. Both buildings will be oriented and placed on the site in order to minimize any shading of the roof which will reduce energy production. The roof space will be used for photovoltaic energy production on site. Furthermore, the window areas of the buildings are arranged to maximize the south-facing window area while minimizing, within reason, the north-, east-, and west-facing window areas. This improves the annual heating performance, typically the largest energy requirement.

52kW of photovoltaic panels are distributed across the site, producing more energy than the homes consume annually, and even producing extra to charge an electric car.

Rainwater is captured from the buildings and used to irrigate the community gardens, providing on site management of storm water and a renewable resource for the community gardens.

HERS Rating
Duplex bldg: -2
Triplex bldg: -14
Preliminary LEED Rating
Rating: 124
Pts. above Platinum: