Nez Perce HUD Strawbale Housing
Nez Perce Tribal Housing Authority (NPTHA) approached the Sustainable Construction in Indian Country (SCinIC) initiative, to help assess, revise and build a set of 18 duplex units for families within an existing Master Plan design. Executive Director Laurie Ann Smith conveyed that the tribe was interested in building energy efficient units and in exploring new methods of construction. As the lead project architect/planner for SCinIC, 7 Directions facilitated the design and planning process by revising the existing master plan and housing designs to better serve the community’s needs for affordable, green strategies and design elements that identified with the Nez Perce residents.
Straw bale construction appealed to the Board of NPTHA after they visited a straw bale multi-family development that was built nearby on the Coeur D’Alene reservation. The initial construction costs were estimated to be potentially higher than typical stick frame construction, but the utility savings and the durability had the potential to reduce life-time operating costs of the homes. As part of SCinIC’s technical assistance, the NPTHA were able to pursue additional funds in the form of competitive low-income housing tax credits (LIHTC). Developing the application for this program led to a few more design changes. Developing two more units—for a round 20—would raised their potential score the housing authority as would formally pursuing a green certification such as LEED for Homes (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) or Enterprise Green Communities.