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Freedom Commons in Syracuse recognized for energy design

By Eric Reinhardt


The Freedom Commons housing development at 450 Burt St. in Syracuse was recognized in the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED Homes Awards in the Outstanding Affordable Project category. LEED is short for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Development. (PHOTO CREDIT: U.S. GREEN BUILDING COUNCIL WEBSITE)

SYRACUSE — The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) has recognized the Freedom Commons housing development at 450 Burt St. in Syracuse as a LEED Homes Awards recipient in the Outstanding Affordable Project category. 

Freedom Commons was developed and operated by the Center for Community Alternatives (CCA) and the Syracuse Housing Authority (SHA), per a July 22 news release from the organizations. The state Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA) in November 2019 announced the completion of the $14.6 million project.

LEED is short for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Development. The Washington, D.C.–based USGBC developed the green-building rating system. 

The awards recognize LEED-certified residential projects that are “positively” impacting communities through “sustainable, healthy and resilient” design. 

“SHA is extremely proud of winning the LEED award as it represents the kind of high-quality infrastructure and investment that is needed in this economically disadvantaged community,” William Simmons, executive director of the Syracuse Housing Authority, said in the release.

Based on the Fortune Society’s Castle and Castle Gardens project, Freedom Commons is a multi-phase housing model offering affordable housing, permanent supportive housing, and transitional housing for people returning home from jail or prison.

The Fortune Society is a New York City–based nonprofit organization that provides support to the formerly incarcerated.

About the property

Co-developed by Norstar Development USA and designed by SWBR, Freedom Commons includes 54 units of affordable and supportive housing as well as a transitional residence that houses about 11 recently incarcerated individuals returning to the Syracuse community. The building encompasses nearly 73,000 square feet.

The building, constructed by Norstar Building Corporation and VIP Structures, Inc., includes a “high performing” mechanical system with high-efficient gas furnaces and central hot-water systems; a super insulated building envelope including a combined R-23 combined wall insulation with R-5 continuous rigid insulation and 2x6 walls with batt insulation; LED (light-emitting diode) lighting, and Energy Star-qualified appliances throughout the building; low-flow water fixtures with WaterSense labels; and a “healthy” indoor air environment with dedicated energy recovery ventilation, and individual mechanical system control for occupants.

“Freedom Commons not only provides modern, affordable housing with critical on-site support services but is an anchor for future redevelopment efforts in the community. As a LEED Gold-certified building, it is a modern and a highly visible addition to the area and will positively impact many residents of the City of Syracuse community,” Linda Goodman, senior VP at Norstar Development USA, L.P., said. 

Funding for the construction of Freedom Commons was provided by New York State Homes & Community Renewal; the New York State Housing Trust Fund Corp.; the New York State Office of Temporary & Disability Assistance Homeless Housing & Assistance Corp.; Key Community Development Corporation; KeyBank N.A.; the Federal Home Loan Bank of New York; Central New York Community Foundation, Inc.; the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority; the Empire State Supportive Housing Initiative, and the Onondaga County Department of Social Services.

About the local organizations

The Center for Community Alternatives says it provides community-based alternatives to incarceration and promotes “reintegrative justice and a reduced reliance on incarceration” through advocacy, services, and public-policy development in pursuit of civil and human rights. CCA operates a local office at 115 E. Jefferson St. in Syracuse, along with offices in Rochester and New York City, per its website.

The Syracuse Housing Authority says it works to provide “quality, safe, and affordable” housing, to create opportunities for residents’ “self-sufficiency and economic independence,” and to “empower individual potential in an environment where people want to live, work, and build communities.”  

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