Prineville’s IronHorse Lodge raises the bar for energy-efficient affordable housing

Prineville’s IronHorse Lodge raises the bar for energy-efficient affordable housing

man in ballcap standing in front of multifamily building with solar panels on the roof

For Rob Roy and Pacific Crest Affordable Housing, IronHorse Lodge is a triumphant step on the Path to Net Zero.

Pacific Crest Affordable Housing understands the value of energy efficiency. The award-winning Bend-based developer specializes in sustainable housing for low-income seniors who appreciate the lower rents and extra savings on their utility bills. Pacific Crest’s ambitious new project – the 26-unit IronHorse Lodge in Prineville – followed Energy Trust of Oregon’s Path to Net Zero on the way to setting new standards for sustainability.

The building, which opened in May, uses 82 percent less energy than a typical multifamily building, 77 percent less energy than an Oregon Code Minimum building, and 40 percent less energy than what’s required for Energy Trust’s Path to Net Zero threshold.

Path to Net Zero lays the groundwork to pursue net-zero energy use–essentially when a building produces as much energy as it consumes over the course of a year. For Pacific Crest, it’s the ultimate target, and IronHorse was a perfect opportunity to shoot for the moon.

Pacific Crest co-founder Rob Roy explained the importance of this effort, “We’ve discovered our rents are probably going to go up by two percent each year, but our expenses are probably going to go up much more than that. Therein lies the reason why we’re really quite interested in sustainability.”

IronHorse Lodge certainly hits the mark. So how did Pacific Crest get there? It took a clear vision, plenty of planning and strong teamwork with the likes of Energy Trust, BLRB Architects and SunWest Builders. “Energy Trust of Oregon basically held our hand from the get-go,” said Roy. “They made the whole process doable. They made it easy and they made it understandable in terms of what our goal was and how they were going to help us try and achieve that.”

The building’s highly-efficient features include solar panels that produce energy for water heating and electricity, envelope3a variable refrigerant flow HVAC system that delivers tremendous savings and
comfort, and a tightly sealed  shell with thick walls and top-quality insulation. Solar tubes bring in natural light in the hallways, and there’s even a system for capturing and repurposing rainwater.

“It’s incredible,” said Roy. “And it’s all about the quality of life for our residents. People that have stable housing, they have a much better life and they’re much happier moving forward, and that’s key to what we do. A building like this goes a long way to fulfilling that goal.”