Sustainable and . . . senior? Construction is underway on Pittsburgh’s first passive house senior development, Hillcrest Senior Residences.

Located at 2920 Brownsville Road in Carrick, the new housing for seniors 62-plus will feature triple-paned windows and extra-thick insulation to reduce heating and cooling costs.

Combining energy efficiency and affordability “underlines Pittsburgh’s commitment not only to our seniors and to affordable housing, but our goal to provide the very best standards of housing to all,” says Mayor William Peduto.

Plans for Hillcrest Senior Residences include a garden area, computer/library room, fitness room, outdoor terrace space, private room for health services, and a laundry room. Eight units will be handicap accessible and two units will serve the hearing/vision impaired. The development may also incorporate bike parking to help emphasize healthy living.

“This project will be catalytic for the Carrick neighborhood. It is the first multi-million dollar investment right on the main street in decades,” says Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak. “Hillcrest will enable seniors to remain independent and stay in their neighborhood, near family, friends, and the businesses they have patronized all their lives. It’s about providing much-needed housing options and preserving the multigenerational fabric of South Pittsburgh.”

With depression ranking as one of the most common geriatric disorders, the ability to maintain neighborhood connections, combined with increased exposure to daylight from the building’s energy efficient design, could have a profound effect on the health and happiness of residents.

The Urban Redevelopment Authority approved $1.2 million in loans earlier this year to support the mixed-income development, which will cost $15.7 million to build. The deal, which has been in the works since 2011, was clinched when a $1,029,560 tax credit was awarded by the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency (PHFA) last year.

The Community Builders, Inc. (TCB) is developing the four-story affordable senior housing community, designed by RDL Architects, on a former Giant Eagle site. TCB has worked extensively in East Liberty, constructing mixed-income housing and flexible commercial space in the business district totaling $53 million.

“The Community Builders is committed to the revitalization of the city of Pittsburgh,” says Jim Eby, TCB senior project manager, Mid-Atlantic region. “We’re excited about the work we’re doing with our partners to bring mixed-income housing for seniors to the Carrick neighborhood.”

Hillcrest Senior Residences will consist of 54 one-bedroom and 12 two-bedroom units restricted to households with at least one household member being 62 years of age or older. Ten units will be market rate and 56 of the units will be reserved for lower-income seniors.

Ground broke earlier this month with a target opening of May of 2017. Sota Construction Services Inc., who with a long history of sustainable construction projects in Pittsburgh and beyond is the builder.

Maya Haptas has an M.A. in Historic Preservation Planning from Cornell University and is a freelance writer covering various topics from architecture and urban design to wellness and skateboarding. She is currently the assistant editor of Bigfoot Skateboarding Magazine.