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Philly Housing Authority Pops Its Sustainable Cherry

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The Norris Apartments near Temple—the Philadelphia Housing Authority's first LEED-certified green development—opened yesterday in a ceremony in front of the building. The units are equipped with all that environmentally happy stuff that's required to get certification—solar panels, toilets that flush lazily, et cetera. And also CFL light fixtures, which are really the only major drawback to being a good citizen of the earth. (One of the questions on the CFLFacts.com FAQ is, "Why does my CFL make me look like a cadaver?")

In February, Naked Philly heaped praise on the project, saying, "These homes are, from both an architectural and an environmental standpoint, a dramatic improvement over pretty much anything we’ve seen from PHA to this point. Hopefully, this project will become the gold standard for new construction from the Housing Authority."

There has been criticism of the Norris Apartments project, notably from Stephen Smith of Forbes.com (whose mother was fired by PHA, just FYI) and Stephen Stofka of Hidden City. Smith objects to the development's allotted space for parking and a grassy courtyard, which he says is a waste considering the proximity to SEPTA.

Stofka adds that the rear of the units have vinyl and aluminum. "How, exactly, is that green? The solar panels are a nice touch but the flat roofs will eventually leak. A gabled roof would have added precious space (an attic) while better directing rainwater flow."

Along those lines, the Norris Apartments development is a pilot program between PHA and the Philadelphia Water Department to address stormwater runoff. So it sounds as though such issues were taken into consideration.
· Philadelphia Housing Authority unveils its first LEED-Certified development in North Philadelphia (press release) [PlanPhilly]
· Tepid Urbanism At New Norris Apartments [Hidden City]
· Update: PHA Gets It Right With New Norris Apartments [Naked Philly]
· PHA development in North Philly a winner at the Commonwealth Awards [Plan Philly]
· From Towers-in-a-Park, to Rowhomes-in-a-Parking Lot? [Forbes.com]