..as reported in the Orlando Sentinel

Affordable-housing conference highlights advances in ‘green’ building
Jerry W. Jackson | Sentinel Staff Writer 

Subsidized housing for lower income families can be more environmentally friendly, but it takes planning and participation by multiple parties, non-profit and governmental housing specialists learned this week in Orlando.

MerryPlace, a new housing complex developed by the West Palm Beach Housing Authority in South Florida, was one of the featured workforce-development projects highlighted this week during the Florida Housing Coalition’s 21st Annual Statewide Affordable Housing Conference in Orlando.

Laurel Robinson, executive director of the West Palm Beach Housing Authority, said MerryPlace “sets a new standard for the perception of affordable and workforce housing,” in part because it employed many of the latest “green” construction techniques to make it more energy efficient.

The multi-unit complex was designed by James, Harwick & Partners Inc. to meet Florida Green Building Coalition standards, with technical assistance provided by the Florida Community Loan Fund and the Florida Solar Energy Center. A partnership was also formed with Florida Public Utilities, the local provider of natural gas. The company contributed a rebate program, an energy-conservation inspection and certification services. 

Robinson said the alliance of all the groups working together allowed “green features” to be incorporated without a significant increase in construction costs.

The three-day housing conference wrapped up Wednesday.