Home Harvest Loop Missoula Montana


The work of Montana-based nonprofit developer homeWORD is guided by a vision to develop innovative yet replicable housing that achieves affordability through sustainable, holistic methods. Over ten years, each of homeWORD's eight completed projects (a total of 94 rental units and 14 homes) has continued to build on experience gained in past projects. HomeWORD's projects demonstrate a growing understanding of the connections between affordability, community revitalization, and reducing long-term environmental costs through green building strategies such as smart land use, resource and energy efficiency, waste reduction, and community sensitive design. HomeWORD aims to help transform its local housing market by modeling replicable solutions for the construction industry.

Orchard Gardens is homeWORD's most ambitious green project to date. Finished in 2005, Orchard Gardens is located in the rapidly growing west side of Missoula, Montana. The area is rooted in an agricultural tradition and is still home to orchards and small farms. The Orchard

Gardens community includes 35 units of one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments for households that earn 50 percent or less of the area median income. The property consists of a straw-bale community barn and four colorful residential buildings, all clustered around a common area that includes a public art display. An underground parking garage is discreetly located below one of the residential buildings, and a bike trail connects to Missoula's trail system. Just under half of the 4.5-acre site has been preserved as open space that includes an organic orchard and community gardens operated by a local nonprofit, Garden City Harvest, and a bike/pedestrian path.

For this project, homeWORD and its project team made each design choice based on homeWORD's goal of creating affordable housing for Missoula that encourages a sense of community and belonging through quality building materials, comfortable living spaces, and environmentally friendly processes. The following green items were priorities for the team:

By placing some of Orchard Gardens' parking in an underground structure, the site plan was able to devote almost half of the site to open space that includes an orchard and gardens.

© Don MacArthur.

Minimizing the environmental impacts of the project, including reducing the project's carbon footprint1 Preserving open space and the rural character of the existing neighborhood


Construction Cost:

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Project Team

Owner/Developer: Architect:

MEP Engineer:

Civ'l Engineer: Structural Engineer: Landscape Architect: General Contractor:

Green Building Consultant: Energy Consultant: Solar Consultant: Commissioning Agent:

4.54 acres, including 2.4 acres of open space and 35 residential units (31,735 sq ft of finished interior space in 5 buildings, including 1,535 sq ft community barn) $4,586,731 for the 4 residential buildings and all site development and improvements (the community barn cost an additional $231,500) $122/sq ft for usable finished space $131,000

$6,779,148 (includes land, site work, new construction costs, professional fees, construction interim costs, financing fees and expenses, soft costs, syndication costs, developer fees, and project reserves) January 31, 2006


MacArthur, Means and Wells Architects

Associated Construction Engineering

Professional Consultants Beaudette Consulting Engineers Wonder Land

Sirius Construction (residential

GC); McMahon Construction

(community barn)

Design Balance

Resource Engineering Group

Solar Plexus

EMC Engineers


Home Depot Foundation's second annual Award of

Excellence for Affordable Housing Built Responsibly, rental housing category, October 2006 Honorable Mention, Charles L. Edson Tax Credit Excellence Awards, rural housing category, February 2006

• Protecting the health of the project's occupants

• Encouraging local economic growth

• Encouraging alternative energy generation

• Evaluating green priorities through modeling

• Establishing tracking systems to maximize the operating efficiency of Orchard Gardens and to help inform other developers

• Encouraging local food security

In October 2006, Orchard Gardens received the Home Depot Foundation's second annual Award of Excellence for Affordable Housing Built Responsibly, in the rental housing category.

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