Palm Springs, California


Program: Situated on a 4.5-acre plot, the 85,000-square-foot 57-unit affordable housing complex was commissioned by the Coachella Valley Housing Coalition, a nonprofit, low-income housing developer in southern California. The apartments range from one to four bedrooms (667 to 1,400 square feet) and offer a host of amenities, including a pool, basketball court, bike racks, 130 parking spaces, courtyards, and a 3,000-square-foot community center.

Design concept and solution: Built on the site of a vacant apartment building in the Palm Springs desert, the complex is certified as LEED Gold and minimizes energy consumption through building orientation, passive-solar design, and recycled materials. The low-slung one- and two-story units are insulated with recycled newspaper and have double-pane windows, fluorescent lighting, and dual-flush toilets. During construction, more than 80 percent of waste was recycled, and the complex is positioned to optimize wind ventilation and daylight.

Construction cost: $12.5 million

Completion date: 2011

Brooks + Scarpa (formerly Pugh + Scarpa)
4611 W. Slauson Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90043
Tel. 310-828-0226  
fax 310-453-9696


Coachella Valley Housing Coalition
Brian Peulicke
45-701 Monroe St, Ste G, Plaza 1
Indio, CA  92201
Tel. 760 347-3157 x257  

Brooks + Scarpa (formerly Pugh + Scarpa)
4611 W. Slauson Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90043
Tel. 310-828-0226   fax 310-453-9696

Project Team:   
Lawrence Scarpa, FAIA – Lead Designer
Angela Brooks, AIA, Omar Barcena, Mark Buckland, Brad Buter, Silke Clemens, Emily Hodgdon, Ching Luk, Gwynne Pugh, Sri Sumantri - Project Design Team

PEG Office of Landscape + Architecture

Weidlinger Associates –  Structural Engineering
Storms & Lowe – Mechanical, Electrical and Plumbing
Lashober & Sovich – Kitchen Consultant
Barbara Hall – Civil Engineering
IRC – Roofing

Acoustics: Veneklasen Associates

LEED: Ted Bardacke, Global Green

General Contractor:  Brown Construction

Photography:  John Edward Linden



Structural system:
Type V wood frame over Type I reinforced concrete.

Masonry: Angeles Block Company
Metal: Galvalume
Concrete: Type ll Portland Cement with 25% flyash, LM Scolfeild Lithochrome stain
Wood: Composite floor truss joists by Weyerhaeuser, Micro-lam and parallam composite beams by Truss Joist Corporation
Exterior: Recycled Portland Cement Exterior Cement Plaster with integral finish
Windows: Milgard, Fleetwood, US Aluminum Corporation
Glazing: Solarban 80 by PPG
Skylights: Bristolite, Solatube International, Inc.
Doors: TM Cobb, Timely, Steelcraft Manufacturing Co., McKeon Door Company,
Nationwide Industries, Anemostat Door Products, Total Door Systems. 
Hardware: Schlage, Trimco, LCN, Ives, Rixon, Monarch, Pemko, Johnson, Elmes
Roofing: 4-ply Modified bitumen membrane by CertainTeed Corporation Flashing, Celotex, GAF corporation, Grefco, APOC

Interior finishes
Cabinets: Custom Recycled Formaldehyde free MDF (clear seal)
Paints: Ecoshield low VOC Interior Paints by Dunn-Edwards
Paneling: Recycled Formaldehyde free MDF (clear seal), Recycled-Content Gypsum
Board with 31% recycled content (26% post consumer waste), Dens-Glass Gold by USG
Tile: Daltile
Flooring: Armstrong Natural Linoleum Flooring
Carpet: Recycled-Content Residential Carpet by Mohawk

Elevators: ThyssenKrupp

Interior: Prudential, Shaper, Prescolite, Lightway,
Downlights: Halo, Capri
Exterior: Shaper, Bega Prudential, Stonco, Belfer, Del Rey Lighting
Controls: Lutron

Fixtures: American Standard, Kohler, Bobrick, Grohe, Chicago Faucets, Toto, Delta
Appliances: GE, ISE
Insulation: Recycled-Content, Formaldehyde-Free Insulation Batts by Johns Manville
Other: Storm water catchbasin and filter system by Stormwater360, Contech, Inc.,
Hydronic wall heaters by Runtal connected to common boiler. Cabinet hardware by Sugatsune, Basco and E.B. Bradley

Building envelope consists of: R 21 batt insulation in the walls and R 30 in the roof, along with double-glazed windows with a low-E coating.  Shading is provided for the building and both courtyard spaces through the perforated screens.  Cooling is only provided in the ground floor computer lab, the two offices and the two manager's units. All other units are designed with windows on opposite walls to induce natural cross-ventilation.  All units and community rooms are heated through a common boiler and radiator system (small fan blows air over the hot water pipes between the wall studs).  Domestic hot water is also heated through a common boiler. All light fixtures are compact fluorescent in the units and exterior walkways and exterior lights are on timers. Fluorescent tubes were also used in the ground community spaces.

Data Sources & Reliability
Simulation software: Energy Pro by Energysoft for Title 24 report

Green Strategies:

Solar Cooling Loads
Use light-colored exterior walls and courtyards.
Cantilevered walkways designed to face south and also shade the building.
Shade southwest windows with window box, southeast with large deep overhangs.

Non-Solar Cooling Loads
Provide void space in building volume, towards prevailing breeze, to enhance airflow into courtyard and through project.
Reduce internal heat gains by improving lighting and appliance efficiency

Lighting Controls
Use timers for all exterior lights.

Use only energy star refrigerators

Materials & Resources
Five major materials were selected with a recycled content: carpet with 25% post consumer content, gypsum board with 5% post consumer and 3% pre consumer, concrete with 10% minimum fly ash content and building insulation with minimum 20% recycled glass cullet and formaldehyde-free.
All paints selected were low VOC.  Interior floor finish in common areas is exposed concrete slab (sealed) or natural linoleum.  Where painting was required, a high-quality prime and paint system was specified.

Finishes were minimized throughout:  Concrete slabs were left exposed where possible and the exterior stucco finish has an integral pigment in lieu of a paint finish.  The exterior metal screen at front facade is aluminum with an anodized color and the side yard screen is 'galvalume' a galvanized finish- neither screen will require painting or finishing in the future.

Diversion of Construction & Demolition Waste
81% of the construction waste was recycled.  The contractor used a waste hauler company to pick up co-mingled waste and provide a report detailing the amount of waste that went to the landfill vs. the amount of waste that got diverted by material (wood, cardboard, metal, carpet, residual, greenwaste, concrete, other and mixed inert).


Green Products Used
Coal Fly Ash
Armstrong Natural Linoleum Flooring
Recycled-Content, Formaldehyde-Free Insulation Batts by Johns Manville
Recycled-Content Gypsum Board
Ecoshield low VOC Interior Paints by Dunn-Edwards
Recycled-Content Residential Carpet by Mohawk
Storm water catchbasin and filter system by Stormwater360, Contech, Inc.
Composite floor truss joists by Weyerhaeuser.
Cabinets inside the units were constructed of MDF and then clear-sealed.
Low flow toilets and faucets with aerators.
Hydronic wall heaters connected to common boiler.

Green Strategies:

Protection of Global Ecosystem
Avoid rigid or blown foam insulation made with an HCFC blowing agent
Minimize ozone-depletion potential of refrigerants in cooling systems

Design for Materials Use Reduction
Use materials with integral finish

Job Site Recycling
Seek a waste hauler who can separate recyclables out of commingled waste
Facilitate recycling by avoiding materials with toxic components

Recycling by Occupants
Design a physical in-house recycling system

Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Manufacture
Use concrete with fly ash replacing a portion of the cement

Resource-Efficient and Materials
Use engineered wood products for rough carpentry
Use insulation with recycled content

Transportation of Materials
Prefer materials that are sourced and manufactured within the local area

Indoor Environment
One of the team's primary objectives was to enhance the quality of living for each resident by surpassing standards found in conventional affordable-housing projects. Although the studio units have limited floor area, all units have Murphy beds hidden in the wall cabinet, natural light, cross-ventilation and the building was designed to take advantage of the prevailing breezes to keep air circulating through the project.

Environmental air quality was addressed by following AQMD (Southcoast Air Quality Mangement District) and Greenseal requirements for finishes and by minimizing finishes: concrete slabs were left exposed where possible and an integral color was provided in the exterior stucco finish, thereby eliminating the need for painting of the exterior of the building.
Low and no- VOC paints, sealants and coatings were used.
Concrete slabs were left exposed at the ground floor (with integral color for the lobby) and natural linoleum was used in the common spaces above the ground floor.

Thermal Comfort
Use glazing with a low Solar Heat Gain Coefficient
Design for optimum cross ventilation through window placement.

Visual Comfort and Light Sources
Use electronic ballasts with fluorescent lighting.