Jewish Community Housing for the Elderly Becomes First Affordable Housing Multifamily Better Buildings Challenge Goal Achiever

By Better Buildings Beat Team on May 24, 2017

As the first affordable housing multifamily group to reach its Better Buildings Challenge goal, JCHE is setting the stage for other housing groups to become more energy efficient.

JCHE leads the way through several projects, including its addition of solar electric and geo-thermal heating and cooling at Shillman House on JCHE’s Framingham, Massachusetts campus, creating a new, high-performance building of 151,020 square-feet with an energy use intensity (EUI) that is half that of its existing building stock.

The energy upgrades at Shillman House got the ball rolling for JCHE’s recent goal achievement, but to really drive home energy savings across its building portfolio, JCHE also has completed a green retrofit of Ulin House, a 141,000-square-foot building that includes 239 studios and one-bedroom units. Most recently, in early-2017, JCHE began an energy and water retrofit of Golda Meir House, a 170,000-square-foot property of 199 apartments.

At Ulin House, the retrofit included multiple energy and water efficient measures such as LED lighting, Energy Star appliances, additional insulation, a cogeneration system, an energy management system, new windows, low-flow toilets and faucet aerators, replacement of bath tubs with accessible showers, make-up air conditioners in corridors with energy recovery ventilators (ERVs) that prevent outside air from rushing in when doors are opened, and individual thermostats with control valves on the baseboards in each unit, allowing tenants to control temperature within the parameters of the EMS and preventing them from opening windows when units are being heated.

For Golda Meir House, JCHE removed all thru-wall air conditioners, which allowed for additional exterior insulation and the installation of new energy efficient windows, increasing daylight in the units. Air sealing and make-up air in the corridors will reduce drafts and cooking smells spreading from one unit to another. Sprinklers will also be added to all units, where previously only the hallways had sprinklers.

JCHE overcame a large list of obstacles to improve its communities, and finding the right resources to complete sustainability upgrades can be challenging. With support from DOE and HUD, JCHE was able to improve its communities through investments in energy efficiency. JCHE’s investments are currently paying off through significant energy savings, freeing up additional resources to reinvest in the organization’s mission to provide superior housing and supportive services, allowing its residents to thrive as they age in community.

To learn more about the DOE’s Better Buildings Challenge, visit