Sustainable Fellwood is coming to life, nestled amongst the graceful live oaks. And by the end of April, it will come to life even more as the first residents move into the bright, spacious apartments in Savannah’s environmentally friendly affordable housing development. The residents will find a community with an adjoining five-acre city park planned and great amenities such as an outdoor volleyball court, community center and a community garden coming online through this year. The development partners are planning an after-school program and will equip a learning center with computers.
And while the solidly built and well-designed apartments with beautiful views of the oaks will bring in happy residents, they may find the sense of community even more enjoyable in the long run. Sustainable Fellwood has been designed to create and nurture a sense of community.
"For a community to have a neighborhood feel, you have to have a central place to meet neighbors," said Paula Brockman of The Lane Company, which is accepting leasing applications. "You want to be able to know your neighbors and be able to look out for one another, and you always want a friendly safe place for the kids to pop into."
And though the sense of community will be big, Sustainable Fellwood is also about less: less construction waste going into the landfills, fewer unhealthy fumes from construction, and the really wonderful bonus of energy efficiency, allowing lower utility bills.
"Tenants will consume less water and less electricity, which should result in lower bills if the cost of utilities remain the same," said Kevin Smith of Catamount Constructors, Inc. Those lower bills will be thanks to low-flow plumbing fixtures, ENERGY STAR appliances, compact fluorescent lights, energy efficient windows, good insulation, and other features such as a tight building "skin" to keep heating and cooling bills lower.
In addition to lower utility bills, there won’t be unhealthy fumes in the apartments from the construction process, Smith explained. The paint, caulk, glues and adhesives are Low-VOC. VOC stands for Volatile Organic Compounds, some of which may have long- or short-term adverse health effects, including autism, asthma, allergies and bronchitis.
"It’ll be a healthier environment," said Smith, who has a four-year-old son with autism. Many people experience a real difference in places that used Low-VOC products, he explained, including people with allergies and asthma.
"I think it’s great," Smith said. "The job site is going to be contributing for years to come" in better health and lower utility bills for the residents, and by being better for the environment. "I think that it’s extra rewarding." "It sets us apart from most of the job sites in the Southeast," Smith said.
He’s also excited to know that many of the workers onsite are learning about environmentally friendly building. He guesses that of 380 people "badged," or verified for employment at Sustainable Fellwood, perhaps 350 never previously worked in green building.
Each of the buildings will be LEED-certified. The prestigious Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification (LEED) is the internationally-recognized standard for high performance, low water and energy use buildings awarded by the U.S. Green Building Council.
Through February, 82 percent of the waste from the project was recycled, Smith said, including wood, concrete, brick, metal and plastic. That’s about 460 tons that will be recycled instead of going into the landfill.
There are 11 buildings in Phase I, and all are erected and under roof. All 787 windows have been installed. Buildings 1, 3 and 5 will be completed in April, and all 11 will be completed by the end of August. The community center, which will include the management office, a commercial washer-dryer laundry area and a recreational area, will begin to open in May and the community garden will be open in August. Curbs are already in place in many areas.
"There are opportunities for everyone in urban green living," Brockman said. "At Sustainable Fellwood, you can be a part of the green revolution."
Sustainable Fellwood is being built with sustainable materials with high standards for energy and water efficiency. For example, pervious paving will be used where possible to allow water to naturally infiltrate the ground, reducing the impact on the neighborhood stormwater system. Construction on Phase I, the first 110 housing units, began in Fall 2008.
Sustainable Fellwood is registered in the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) for Neighborhood Development pilot program and will be guided by the Smart Growth Network’s principles for diverse, walk-able, distinctive, attractive communities. Sustainable Fellwood is also registered in the EarthCraft Coastal Communities through Southface Energy Institute.
Sustainable Fellwood is a mixed use, mixed income Housing Authority of Savannah redevelopment. Master Developer: Melaver, Inc., in partnership with Parallel Housing Inc,, Progressive Redevelopment Inc,, and Vanguard Developers. In collaboration with: Lott Barber, Architecture and Planning, Catamount Constructors, Inc., City of Savannah, and CHSA Development of Savannah.