The Orchards at Orenco, Phase 1



57 units of transit-oriented affordable workforce housing, including eight Section 8 units, built to Passive House standards.


The Orchards at Orenco, Phase I is the largest multifamily housing project in North America, and one of the largest affordable housing projects in the world, to meet Passive House energy-efficiency benchmarks. Sponsored by REACH Community Development, Orchards I provides affordable living opportunities for working families in Hillsboro’s transit-oriented Orenco Station community. Residents benefit from low rents, low utility costs, and reduced dependency on auto transit—the second biggest expense for Portland-area households, after rent.

The seat of Washington County, Hillsboro is a growing workforce population center. Semiconductor manufacturing, bioscience, and other industries contribute to an expanding employment base, and the Portland-Hillsboro MAX line gives residents high-speed transit to jobs throughout the metro area. But Hillsboro’s supply of affordable housing for lower-wage workers has not kept up with demand. Orchards I addresses this gap, providing 57 affordable rental units, including eight Section 8 units targeted to very-low-income residents.

Creative Solutions

Developed in Germany, Passive House is a set of benchmarks aimed at reducing building energy use to a small fraction of the industry standard. As lead development consultant for Orchards I, HDC helped REACH design and build an affordable housing project that not only meets Passive House benchmarks, but also is cost-efficient and sustainable over the long term.

Finance: HDC helped REACH to secure green incentive funds and to structure an overall funding package suited to Orchard I’s unique cost cycle, which involves larger upfront investments, offset by operating cost savings passed on to residents.

Design and Construction: Orchards I is super-insulated, airtight, and maintains fresh indoor air and comfortable room temperatures, while using up to 80 percent less energy than a similar building constructed to code. HDC worked with REACH, Ankrom Moisan, and Walsh Construction to address the unique challenges of constructing this fundamentally different kind of building. For instance, the team studied five different wall assemblies to find the most cost-effective super-insulated option and combed European and North American markets to source commercial-grade exterior doors that met criteria for energy efficiency, remote security, and wheelchair accessibility.

REACH Community Development

Hillsboro, Oregon

→ Ankrom Moisan Architects (of record)
→ William Wilson Architects (design)
→ Walsh Construction Co.
→ Oregon Housing and Community Services
→ Washington County
→ NOAH (Network for Oregon Affordable Housing)
→ Wells Fargo
→ Meyer Memorial Trust
→ Energy Trust of Oregon
→ NeighborWorks America
→ Enterprise Community Partners

→ Low-income-housing tax credit equity (9%)
→ Oregon affordable housing tax credit equity
→ HOME funds
→ Oregon Multifamily Energy Program funds
→ Oregon Housing Trust funds
→ Construction and permanent loans

Residential: 44,077
Common Areas: 16,250
Total: 56,421

Total Development: $14.6 million

Fall 2012 to Summer 2015