When Puyallup Nation Housing Authority began preparations for developing its iconic Longhouse project, the original vision was to provide energy efficient housing in a way that is culturally relevant to the community. Today, after successfully achieving Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum status from the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) – an achievement in sustainable design and construction that is virtually unheard of in tribal housing projects around the country – Executive Director Annette Bryan is proud to say the project has only exceeded her expectations. The project seems to have exceeded the expectations of the USGBC as well, given the organization’s recognition of the Longhouse project as the 2012 LEED For Homes Project of the Year. “This award validates all our hard work and dedication to green building,” Annette Bryan said. “We encountered many challenges and skepticism along the way, but we continued to move forward and with the support of Tribal Council and the Housing Board, project team and housing staff, we were able to achieve our goals. Each and every one of those elements was critical to the success of the project, and our ability to work together allowed us to achieve our goals.” LEED Platinum certification alone requires a commitment to the use of renewable, local materials and the ability to meet a rigorous set of requirements set forth by the USGBC. “LEED certification identifies this project as a pioneering example of sustainable design, and demonstrates your leadership in transforming the building industry,” said USGBC President, CEO and founding Chairman S. Richard Fedrizzi in a letter of congratulations to the housing authority. The housing authority is hard at work on the Northeast Tacoma project’s second phase, consisting of 10 units expected to be complete by March 2013. Phase 1 consists of 10 units that are currently occupied. Tribal councilmember Bill Sterud commended the Puyallup Nation Housing Authority on their achievements and well-deserved recognition. “Once again, the housing authority and staff just keep on doing the right thing,” he said. “Everything they do amazes me.” Residents have already expressed their gratitude for low utility bills and high-quality accommodations.
“We have heard from residents that their energy bills are next to nothing,” Annette Bryan said. “We also designed the space to create social interaction, which also seems to have worked well. People look after each other, and they have truly embraced the community building, too. All of this was designed intentionally with these goals in mind, and their feedback confirms that we are creating a sense of community.” The project was not only constructed using local labor, but employees were hired through the Tribal Employment Rights Office. “We had to train people who had never done this type of project before, but we’re using 100 percent tribal labor,” she said. After working in the affordable housing arena for more than 35 years, Project Manager Gregory Combs says he has never seen a project like the Longhouse in his career. Although the team is proud to receive national – and international – recognition, the team’s goal was simply to provide high-quality housing for the community and raise the bar in sustainable construction. “The award is a bonus,” Gregory Combs said. “These are some of the best houses I have ever been a part of. We did not set out to win awards, but we had a very committed crew, and we’re proud of the work we have done on the job. The most satisfying part of the project to me is that the people who live there are happy.” The project has also earned international recognition through the Social Economic Environmental Design Award for Excellence in Public Interest Design. This award recognizes excellence in social, economic and environmental design. Six projects were selected out of 65 that were submitted from 21 countries around the world. The Puyallup Longhouse is among the distinguished six.
The Northwest Indian Housing Association presented the housing authority with awards in the following categories:
Tribe – Puyallup Tribal Council
Resident Organization – NE Tenant Organization
IHA Executive Director – Annette Bryan
IHA Commissioner – Robert Thomas, board chairman
Cultural Contribution to Tribal Housing Community – Patricia Ortiz, intake specialist