The ABC Green Home 3.0

Magnolia Court and Cypresswood Estates are the top winners for 2013.

By Manny Gonzalez

As with the two previous ABC Green Homes, the latest on-the-boards’ version, the ABC Green Home 3.0, will not only continue to demonstrate how sustainability and energy efficiency can be affordable to any builder, but this time the home will reveal that even a townhome can incorporate Universal Design and accommodate a multigenerational family.

Peninsula Publishing and Southern California Edison showed the home building industry a smarter way to build with the inaugural ABC Green Home, a net-zero energy ranch house that went beyond just being green by seamlessly accommodating persons of all abilities in the home. As the 2.0 version gets ready to soon break ground to prove the same affordable, buildable and certifiable practice works just as well for a two-story home, it will also demonstrate that a multilevel home can encompass Universal Design for a multigenerational family. While multigenerational homes are beginning to gain traction with homebuilders in the single-family space, it is seldom found in multifamily housing and never found in townhomes.

Starting right after World War II, the extended family household fell out of favor with the American public. In 1940, about a quarter of the population lived in one; by 1980 that percentage had been cut in half to just 12 percent. But as Pew Research has found, the multigenerational household has mounted a comeback, and that reversal has taken place among all major demographic groups. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, by 2010 that number had increased to an estimated 16.1 percent with about 4.4 million of the 113.6 million U.S. households consisting of three or more generations under one roof. While today’s home buyers can find multigenerational plans in many single-family developments around the country, the choices are very limited in more affordable multifamily product and non-existent in townhomes.

 The contemporary design shown for younger generations in the residential choices can be used for senior housing, the ABC Green Home 3.0 is designed to appeal to all generations.
The contemporary design shown for younger generations in the residential choices can be used for senior housing, the ABC Green Home 3.0 is designed to appeal to all generations.

Flexibility is the key to the ability of the ABC Green Home 3.0 to allow for a wide range of living arrangements and to accommodate aging in place either for the resident or an extended family member. While two of the three unit plans are designed as somewhat conventional townhomes, the third plan in its standard form is created for the first-time home buyer who wants to enter into home ownership, but desires to offset the initial cost by renting out a ground floor suite. With an option for a master bedroom on the third floor, the plan can easily accommodate multigenerational living. While initially there may not be a need for assisted vertical transportation in this multilevel home, the arrangement of the stairs allows for the easy introduction of a lift should the need arise. With the principals of Universal Design integrated into both, the ground floor and second floor layouts, this townhome truly does allow for aging in place.

The 3.0 version of the ABC Green Home also represents another departure from its predecessors in its architecture with a very contemporary look as opposed to the previous more traditional Craftsman and Santa Barbara styles.

The ABC Green Home 3.0 will be designed to be a multi-level facility for seniors or even multi-generation families.
The ABC Green Home 3.0 will be designed to be a multi-level facility for seniors or even multi-generation families.

In their recent research evaluating 90-plus recently designed, leading-edge senior living projects in the U.S. and internationally to identify best practices and common threads that point to large scale trends, one of their key findings was an increasing preference for contemporary or modern design. One doesn’t need to look much further than the winners of NAHB’s Best in 50+ Housing awards over the last several years to see that this is true. With the affinity for contemporary design shown by the younger generations in the residential choices and the trend toward the same in senior housing, the ABC Green Home 3.0 is designed to appeal to all generations.

Beginning with its roots in the first ABC Green Home with its Universal Design features, followed by the 2.0 version with its multigenerational concept, the ABC Green Home 3.0 promises to continue the tradition of demonstrating a new level of affordable, buildable and certifiable housing… a multi-level one!

Manny-Gonzalez-NEWManny Gonzalez AIA, LEED AP is a principal and senior partner with KTGY Group, Inc., Architecture + Planning, with offices in Irvine, Santa Monica, Oakland, Calif., Denver, Colo., and Tysons, Va. He can be reached at (310) 394-2623 or mgonzalez@ktgy.com.

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