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Energy-Efficient Affordable Housing Comes To Hillsboro

OPB | June 20, 2014 12:45 p.m. | Updated: June 20, 2014 3:04 p.m.

Michèle Turbin / Flickr

Builders broke ground on a new affordable housing project in Hillsboro on Tuesday, and it’s not going to be just any drab apartment complex. The Orchards at Orenco will be the largest multifamily building in the country constructed according to Passive House standards, a building method that could cut down on residents’ energy costs by 80 percent. Passive Houses are airtight, with thick insulation and a ventilation system that recycles heat created inside the house. The homes rely on warmth generated from occupants and appliances, and they maintain a constant temperature throughout the year through “passive” means instead of “active” heating and air conditioning.

Lower rents combined with lower utility bills will allow residents of Orchards at Orenco to save money, says Dan Valliere, CEO of REACH Community Development, the project’s developer. But tenants need to minimize the amount of cold air they let in and manage without air conditioning. One- and two-bedroom apartments in the building will cost between $611 and $733 a month.

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