LEED building practices helping turn around Covington neighborhood

Two new homes in Covington have been awarded LEED certification by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) for their green home building and design. The two homes become some of the first LEED certified homes in Kentucky, with the home at 520 Thomas Street being the first home to achieve LEED Gold.

The home was built by the Center for Great Neighborhoods (CGN), with assistance from the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) of Greater Cincinnati & Northern Kentucky and the City of Covington, and incorporates a variety of sustainable design features that include low-flow plumbing, low-e windows, EnergyStar-rated appliances, high efficiency HVAC systems, recycled construction materials, bamboo flooring, sustainably-harvested wood moldings and more. In total, the green building features of the new home scored the project 78.5 out of 136 total points possible in the LEED for Homes certification – Gold status projects must score between 70.5 and 85.5).

“As a LEED certified home, 520 Thomas Street serves as a model of greener living for the entire community,” said Nate Kredich, Vice President of Residential Market Development for the U.S. Green Building Council. “The home is at the national forefront of quality; and their example can help us all to live better by reducing our environmental footprint, cutting our utility bills, and coming home to a healthier place to live.”

The new homes are part of a larger revitalization wave happening in the Austinburg neighborhood of Covington which is bordered by the Licking River and the proposed Licking River Levee Walk.

“The Center for Great Neighborhoods aims to make Covington a place where people choose to live, work, and play,” Rachel Hastings, Director of Neighborhood & Housing Initiatives with CGN, described. “We built homes on a formerly vacant lot in Covington’s Austinburg neighborhood at the request of the Austinburg Neighborhood Association in an attempt to increase home ownership and remove blight.”

Hastings explained that the CGN uses its housing development program in a targeted effort to increase property values, reduce blight and increase high-quality affordable market-rate home ownership. She is also excited about the positive impact the Seneca Place development is having on the neighborhood which is seeing its first new construction in over 50 years.

“When neighbors saw the new homes being built, it helped restore their confidence in their neighborhood and encouraged them to make improvements on their home because they saw that they could get a return on their investment,” explained Hastings. “The homes also show that, for a reasonable price, you can build LEED Gold homes that are easy for the average homeowner to maintain.”

The new homes also mean an addition to Covington’s tax base and new residents populating Covington’s urban core. The success is planned to continue as CGN owns additional lots in the Austinburg neighborhood where it plans to construct an additional eight homes, and invest another estimated $1.6 million into the immediate area.

520 Thomas Street construction photograph provided.