Ann Arbor architect creates LEED student apts

Several years ago, architect Warren Samberg purchased an old Victorian student rental house on Packard and saw the large parking lot to the rear of the Ann Arbor property as an opportunity.

Students are now living in a LEED-certified building constructed behind the Victorian. The new addition is approximately 3,000 square feet and holds two, six-bedroom apartments in two stories above covered parking.

"I'm an architect, so I believe in the idea that if you're going to build, it should be environmentally friendly," he says. Plus, most students have grown up reducing, reusing, and recycling. "It's part of their everyday life to live a greener lifestyle. They already understand what a green building is. Most support living that way."

The Victorian, like other old houses around town, is inefficient energy-wise, but Samberg replaced the steam boiler system with geothermal heat, since he was already digging a well for the new building. "The idea was if I'm digging all these wells, I might as well dig a few more wells to supply the existing house as well," he says. "It made sense to do this all at the same time."

And since the addition is new construction, built by Bloom General Contracting, he was able to add extra insulation and use a light-colored roof to reflect the sun. He'll probably add new windows and blown-in insulation to the old house down the road, he says. "Over the years, I want to continuously improve the existing old house."

It also makes financial sense as a landlord to build buildings with high energy efficiency, he points out. And, rent is competitive with similar buildings around campus. "I'm not charging more just because it's a green building," he says. "Many of the green elements of the building are not any more costly than a project that doesn't have green products."

The addition was completed about a month ago and tenants moved in for fall semester. "So far, the feedback's been great," he says. "They like living there."

Source: Warren Samberg, owner of 523 Packard
Writer: Kristin Lukowski
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