October 23rd, 2011

Housing Authority Sustainability Assessment


Earlier this month, Oystertree Consulting was selected to provide an agency-wide sustainability assessment for the Philadelphia Housing Authority (PHA). PHA has already been a leader in green building and energy efficiency, having implemented a number of improvements in individual projects, including green roofs, whole building retrofits, and a more aggressive green building project at Paschall Village including geothermal heating and cooling, along with a solar PV installation. Oystertree’s work is intended to augment these successes by incorporating sustainability in all aspects of PHA’s administration, operations and development.

This contract by PHA is an effort to assess its current success and future opportunities regarding green building and sustainability. Oystertree’s work will include efforts to utilities and other resources used by PHA operations, improve indoor air quality and resident comfort throughout the PHA portfolio, and generally contribute to the City of Philadelphia’s Greenworks Philadelphia Plan. This is a short term effort to develop quantifiable metrics as well as a long term plan for continued success. Oystertree Consulting was selected because of our unique combination of expertise in sustainability and deep history working specifically with public housing authorities across the country.

The Philadelphia Housing Authority is the largest landlord in Pennsylvania and the fourth-largest housing authority in the U.S. PHA’s 1,150 employees provide housing and related services to approximately 81,000 residents of Philadelphia in 32,000 units of public housing. Those residents are housed in over 50 separate developments and 4,000 scattered site units,…


September 30th, 2011

HUD Research Grant Program


On September 16, HUD announced the recipients of the Sustainable Communities Research Grant Program. This $2.5 million grant program supports evidence-based studies in sustainability, and the development of new tools and strategies that promote and implement more effective affordable housing policies. Earlier this week, HUD held a Research and Practice Forum in Washington, DC to highlight the work of the grant recipients and the need for practical and quantitative decision-making to improve outcomes.

Dr. Regina Gray, a Housing Policy Analyst at HUD, introduced the six grantees and moderated a discussion of their research goals and intended outcomes. A brief summary of those projects follows:

Arizona State University
ASU will study the relationship between affordable housing and walkability—defined by ASU as pedestrian-scaled access to services, transit, and a well-connected street network. This study will use LEED ND data, the Center for Neighborhood Technology’s accessability indices, and WalkScore.com’s network distances to help identify the relationship between HUD-assisted affordable rental housing and neighborhood quality.

National Housing Trust
NHT and Abt Associates will analyze the location of LIHTC properties in relation to transit to understand how the preservation of affordable housing units has been impacted by transit preferences in state-by-state QAPs. Researchers will use data from 47 metro areas, as well as interviews with key stakeholders in 15 states.

Urban Institute
This project will examine how housing voucher recipients weigh transportation and housing needs with neighborhood characteristics when making housing choices. Researchers will combine neighborhood data,…


August 27th, 2011

AIA Awards Task Force

AIA Firm Award winners and Gold Medalists names are chiseled into a wall at AIA headqarters in Washington, DC

Earlier this year, Oystertree Principal Casius Pealer was appointed by AIA President Clark Manus to an AIA Awards Task Force.  The task force’s charge is to conduct a comprehensive review of all award programs, including the AIA Firm Award, Gold Medal, and 25 Year Award, along with other Institute awards and co-sponsored design awards.  In addition to individual award issues such as submission criteria, judging criteria, jury process, recognition, notification plan, and ceremony venue, the task force will make recommendations on how to strengthen and promote AIA awards overall for the benefit of the profession and the public.

AIA Awards Task Force meeting
(photo: Jeff Potter, FAIA)

The task force met in person and via phone on August 24, and is scheduled to provide a report to the Secretary for review and consideration by the AIA Board of Directors at its December 2011 meeting in Washington, DC.




Other AIA Awards Task Force members include:

Steven K. Alspaugh, AIA (AIA Committee on Design)

Peter Q. Bohlin, FAIA (AIA Gold Medal recipient)

Helene Combs Dreiling, FAIA (AIA Secretary)

Robert Hull, FAIA (Architecture Firm Award recipient)

Robert Ivy, FAIA (AIA EVP/CEO)

William E. Leddy, FAIA (AIA Committee on the Environment)

Andrea P. Leers, FAIA (Architecture Firm Award recipient)

Sharon C. Park, FAIA (Former GM/FA Jury Chair)

Thompson E. Penney, FAIA (Former…