Condos take energy savings to new level
By Paul Beebe
The Salt Lake Tribune
Article Last Updated: 08/30/2007 11:44:01 PM MDT
Condominiums, which stand in what was once a patch of ground where three drug houses once cast a pall of fear over a West Temple neighborhood has been brought back to life by a Salt Lake City company that builds super-efficient dwellings.
Earlier this week, the Blue Conservancy took the wraps off of the Rowhaus Condominiums - two buildings containing 24 condominiums that look like East Coast row houses but take energy efficiency to new heights.
"We're trying to provide comfortable living spaces that have a long life span and utilize energy-efficient design and building techniques," Mark Wisniewski, principal officer of the conservancy and a freelance anesthesiologist, said earlier this week.
The condos at 1130 S. West Temple St. are separated by foot-thick insulated concrete partition walls that virtually stop sounds from traveling between units. The same material was used recently to construct sound-proof walls at movie theaters in West Jordan and Ogden, Wisniewski said.
Floors withstand ground temperature fluctuations, cutting heating costs. White membranes covering the roofs reflect summer solar energy away from the building. Gas-heat and air-conditioning units are mounted on the roof to minimize interior noise.
Each unit is priced around $300,000, which buys 2,000 square feet of living space - there is virtually no wasted area in the building, Wisniewski said. Each condo also comes with a 500-square-foot garage and a yard with sprinklers for gardens or xeriscaping.
Perhaps best of all, pets are allowed.
The neighborhood around 1100 South and West Temple used to be a high-crime area. That began to change 15 months ago after the drug houses were burned down by the Salt Lake Fire Department and construction began on the Rowhaus project. Over time, as some of the condos were sold, children returned to a park across the street that police say was notorious for drug-related crime.
"The Rowhaus project not only turned a former crime scene into a much-needed training experience, but also served as a catalyst in turning the neighborhood around," Salt Lake Police Chief Chris Burbank said.
"Where we used to get four or five calls per day to investigate criminal activity at the park, we now see a true community gathering place where people can walk safely," the chief said.
The conservancy has constructed 12 energy-efficient houses in Virginia, Montana and Salt Lake over the past decade. The Rowhaus project is the group's biggest effort, Wisniewski said.
So far, nine condos have been sold. Buyers include a University of Utah professor, a retired couple, a young family with one child, and two professional couples without children.
"They appeal to a wide range of people," Wisniewski said.
Another two units are for sale, and the rest will come onto the market at a rate of about two a month. Babs DeLay, owner of Urban Utah Homes and Estates, is the agent.
"There are certainly other projects that utilize sustainable design elements. But Rowhaus is an outstanding project in terms of energy-efficient design and efficient use of electricity and other resources," said Patrick Thronson, a spokesman for Salt Lake Mayor Rocky Anderson.
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