by Emma Hurbanis
Bayview, a community-focused, low-income housing development located in the Greenbush neighborhood of Madison, has recently completed the first phase of a redevelopment effort of their existing townhomes and community center. Through the redevelopment process, Bayview has prioritized sustainability and energy efficiency upgrades that aim to mitigate the impacts of climate change on residents such as flooding, extreme heat, poor air quality, and high utility bills.
Developers prioritized high efficiency features for the new Bayview with the knowledge that improving the sustainability of its buildings is not just for the benefit of the environment, but also directly improves the quality of life of residents. This ethic was developed with the deep history of the community in mind— one that was established in the early 1900s and composed of Italian, Jewish, Black, and Irish immigrants. Today, Bayview remains a culturally diverse community with 93% of residents qualifying for federal housing assistance.
Bayview provides affordable housing while also building community through educational and recreational programming for community members of all ages. Bayview’s mission is to “support its culturally diverse, low-income families in realizing their aspirations by providing affordable housing, fostering cultural pride, and building community through the arts, education, and recreation.”
Bayview housing before redevelopment
Bayview recently completed the first of three phases of redevelopment to transform the community from outdated and inefficient townhomes and community center to beautiful buildings with increased capacity, all while using sustainable building methods.
During the redevelopment design process, Bayview residents were continuously brought into conversations regarding their visions for a new Bayview. Utilizing design justice practices, over 70% of Bayview households contributed to the redevelopment plans; conversations spanned from general thoughts on accessibility, security, and open space to more specific details such as where the laundry machines should be located. Thorough, intentional engagement provided a launching pad for the redevelopment to be culturally responsive as well as sustainable.
The new community center, which houses programming for not only Bayview residents but all Greenbush community members, will have impressive energy efficiency efforts. As a Passive House certified building, the center has a super-insulated building envelope that allows for maximum energy efficiency. These measures drastically reduce energy use (Passive House can reduce total energy use up to 80%) as well as improve indoor air quality. Utilizing a heat pump and the future addition of solar panels, the building hopes to have net-zero energy usage. The roof will also feature a green roof, a method that assists in sustainable stormwater management.
The building is designed to last at least 100 years, a major feat in energy efficiency and sustainability due to the intensity of resources required for new construction.
Townhomes and Landscape
In affordable housing, energy efficiency methods are usually seen as costly and unnecessary add-ons. However, Bayview is demonstrating that these energy efficiency measures are saving residents on their utility bills and improving resident health, an appealing aspect for the community members. What's more, efficient HVAC systems means each apartment has a quiet and safe system, leading to higher quality of life.
Other sustainability measures also benefit the residents directly— native plantings are located throughout Bayview, which makes communal spaces an appealing place to linger and create connections. Community garden plots are also purposely designed to encourage a sense of community alongside a connection to the natural environment. Bayview’s stormwater management systems will collect runoff from the roofs of apartments and use it for irrigation in the garden plots.
For their commitment to sustainablility, Bayview Foundation was recognized as 3-star Building Design Climate Champion in 2022. Bayview has set an impressive example for affordable housing communities in Dane County and the Dane County Office of Energy and Climate Change is proud to recognize their efforts.