Keesler housing development is big and green

By Steve Phillips - bio | email

BILOXI, MS  (WLOX) -   You've may have heard that the new homes being built at Keesler represent the largest single housing development in Air Force history.

But along with being large, that military project is also very "green"

It's among the most "green" residential housing developments in the country right now.

More than 700 of the one thousand homes being built at Keesler are LEED certified.  That stands for "Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design".

It looks like a typical new neighborhood on the outside. But these Air Force homes were carefully designed to maximize energy efficiency and environmental compatibility.

That's why the vast majority of homes in this military development will be certified "silver" under the LEED program.

"Basically a set of criteria that you get points for, depending on what you can do within the house. For example, you get points for energy conservation measures. Energy Star appliances and heating and air conditioning," said Keesler civil engineer, Patrick Breaux.

The LEED certification criteria covers everything from the slab to the roofing.

"Extra insulation as compared to what the average home might have that someone's building today. The windows have to be extra tight and double paned. Our water heaters are extra efficient as are all the appliances So, it's that much less energy that we're having to use day to day just to maintain these homes," said Breaux.

"In the kitchen, we had to make sure all the appliances were Energy Star rated. So, they're not only energy efficient, but in the case of the dishwasher, it's also water efficient."

Nearly every aspect of the housing development is designed to be environmentally friendly and energy efficient.  Even the light colors used on the exteriors and roofs is designed to reflect, rather than absorb heat from the sun.

"Even looking at the sidewalks and the pavement. All that is considered as part of how much heat is reflected back into the atmosphere basically," says Breaux.

Once finished by early next year, this project alone will triple the number of LEED certified "silver" homes in the country.

"As the whole country moves toward being more green, it's one thing that we can do. And in many cases it wasn't really more expensive or much more expensive to build the houses to be more efficient and to meet LEED certification," he says.

LEED certification involves a grading system that rates everything from building materials used to the energy efficiency of appliances.

Keesler received credits for recycling part of the demolition debris when the old houses were torn down. Much of the concrete was crushed and then re-used as paving material in the new project.

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