Apr 12, 2023

Case Study: Northfield Hillcrest Village Housing Project

Project Background 

The New Homes team began working on this 17-unit, all-electric, affordable housing community in November 2020. The team reviewed the building plans and energy models from the architect before construction began, which allowed them to make early recommendations regarding the energy efficiency components of each building’s design. This review process included early meetings to incorporate ENERGY STAR, Indoor airPLUS, and DOE Zero Energy Ready standards into the plans and align the entire building team to ensure all program requirements would be met. At the end of the review process, the team recommended revising insulation levels, air sealing details, ventilation systems, and mechanical systems. 

Case Summary

Home Certifications, Ratings, and Potential Savings  

  • DOE Zero Energy Ready Homes 
  • EPA Indoor airPLUS  
  • Energy Star New Construction (version 3.1)  
  • Average HERS score: 33  
  • Average annual savings per unit: $1,387  
  • Airtightness, average ACH50 per unit: 1.28 ACH50  
  • 57.33% more airtight than a 3.0 ACH50 code-built home  
  • Total predicted CO2 reductions: 56.5 tons/year  
  • ​​​​​​​Based on ENERGY STAR Version 3.1 Reference Home (2012 IECC) 

Energy Efficient Features 

  • Air-tight construction  
  • Cold climate air source heat pump (Electric, 10.2 HSPF, 19 SEER)  
  • Residential Water Heater, Electric, 3.42 UEF  
  • R40 walls, R50 attic  
  • Triple-pane windows/Low-E 272 (U-Value: 0.17, SHGC: 0.27)  
  • Heat recovery ventilation (90 CFM) 


  • Community Action Center of Northfield  
  • Northfield Construction Company  
  • Schmidt Homes  
  • Johnson-Reiland Builders & Remodelers  
  • City of Northfield  
  • Carleton College  
  • University of Minnesota: Center for Sustainable Building Research  
  • Sweetgrass Design Studio  
  • Precipitate Architecture