Adult living facility is a 'green' oasis


It is the newest thing on the block on Kuykendahl in north Harris County -- a stylish apartment complex for active adults. But if you judge Cypresswood Estates by its appearance alone, you're missing the point.

"You don't notice a new paint smell because you don't have those volatile fumes," said Jim MacKinnon with Watermark Builders.

The complex is a certified LEED Platinum construction which means its green. From non-toxic paints to insulation and radiant barriers behind the walls that far exceed traditional building standards. Beneath the lawn is a cistern that takes in rainwater that will in turn help irrigate the property. And on the roof, a lot of solar panels.

"Which supplement 30 percent of the total calculated energy use of the property," said MacKinnon.

That's a big deal for whom the complex was designed -- residents 55 and older. Mary Cranford moved here from Dallas a few weeks ago and signed a lease as soon as she could. Her light bill is about $40 less a month. Then she discovered the benefit of the extra insulation and radiant barrier.

"What I really love about it, too, is I don't have to have my air conditioning on. It's not on right now. Just a fan on. Had it on since early, early this morning," said Cranford.

There are also the amenities like tile floors, carpeting in the bedroom only to cut down on dust, granite countertops, energy efficient appliances and an elegantly decorated clubhouse.

And here's another unexpected element. Cypresswood Estates is a project of the Harris County Housing Authority built atop foreclosed land. It's an affordable housing development for active adults.

"That's the greatest need for people in Harris County in terms of a mixed use development," said Guy Rankin, Executive Director of the Harris Co. Housing Authority.

It is, however, the first time the county decided to push the limits on LEED or green certification for one of its housing projects. It added about 25 percent to the construction costs, but it will save money over time.

Tile floors mean carpet doesn't have to be replaced with each new tenant. Solar means lower utility costs for operation, as do water saving features.

There are 88 units in all. Half are reserved for income-restricted residents, the other half are at market price. It's so innovative that the Housing Authority director wants more built in the future.

"Sometimes wisdom catches up, and maybe seniors will lead the way in terms of a green revolution," said Rankin.

You can click here for more information about the Cypresswood Estates.

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