Healthy Affordable Housing Case Studies:

The Rose

Minneapolis, MN May - December 2015

The Rose is a mixed-income housing project in Minneapolis developed by Aeon and Hope Community. Investigating this project offers an introduction to understanding the processes and challenges of designing and building affordable, sustainable housing. It is particularly interesting to explore such a development and connect with key stakeholders of the project as all parties have demonstrated an intention to prove that sustainable, net-zero-ready, healthier housing development can be built affordably. Such a common motivation between stakeholders in the housing development industry is timely and offers a momentum to work together towards tools, mechanisms, and propositions to make the process more transparent, practical, affordable, and replicable, and thus, more easily accessible to other housing developers. The transparency and commitment to share information on promising practices from the developers, architects, contractor and consultants demonstrates a real desire to work together for positive change, moving beyond competition towards collaboration in the affordable housing sector. Our hope is that this report is a resource for the organizations involved in the building of The Rose and an aid to widely disseminate and replicate better building practices.

Dissecting the challenges of specific moments, key decisions, and negotiations brings to light the road to innovation for the creation of more sustainable, healthier buildings. The network of complex relations, partnerships and decision-making processes existing between National and State policy, Developer, Architect, Contractor, Manufacturer and local communities is an important characteristic of the project.

Examining The Rose as a pilot project also enables an understanding of the current benchmarks for sustainable and affordable developments. In understanding the guidelines of the two certifications the development subscribed to, the Living Building Challenge (LBC) and Enterprise Green Communities Certification (EGCC) allows for a critical analysis of the implementability and replicability of their requirements in relation to human health and affordability.

This case study uses a particular lens on the specification and procurement process of the interior building products of the development in order to uncover the relationship between affordability and the challenges of purchasing less toxic construction products. This research was carried out from May to November 2015, and includes excerpts from interviews carried out with numerous stakeholders who participated in this development. MSR Design and their documentation of the process and Aeon’s expertise in affordable housing development were key resources to this research. The Rose opened in October 2015 and a post-occupancy survey and analysis has been set up to be completed and ongoing in the coming years.

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