Eco-friendly neighborhood unveiled in Ansbach
July 1, 2011
KATTERBACH, Germany -- Soldiers, leaders and civilian employees of 12th Combat Aviation Brigade and U.S. Army Garrison Ansbach celebrated the grand opening of the Urlas family housing area June 14.
The Urlas project began in 2008 and came to fruition through the partnership of USAG Ansbach, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and members of the surrounding German communities. The housing area, located near Katterbach Army Airfield, features 106 energy-efficient townhomes for junior and senior enlisted Soldiers. A new Post Exchange and commissary are under construction nearby. A new Army Lodge and medical clinic will also open at Urlas in the future.
Col. Christopher M. Hickey, USAG Ansbach commander, said the Urlas Housing Area exemplifies the Army taking care of Soldiers and Families.
Several years ago, the Army conducted a study and realized that the Army was out of balance â€¦ the Army Family Covenant was developed as a result and millions of dollars have been spent to bring the quality of life of families up to par with the quality of service of Soldiers, he said.
For many years, Urlas was a military training area; the sprawling new neighborhood is a far cry from the hills where Hickey drove tanks as a young officer in the mid-1980s.
â€śThis is absolutely an historic day " but Iâ€™ll try to keep it short, as I know young David wants to get in his house,â€ť Hickey joked, referring to 18-month old David Hansen, the son of Spc. Kody Hansen, of E Company, 5-158th Aviation Regiment, 12th CAB.
Hansen, his wife, Mary and son David, were the first family to receive keys to a home in Urlas. The little oneâ€™s excitement during the official speeches prompted much laughter from those in attendance.
â€śThe house is very nice, very modern, and itâ€™s much better than what weâ€™re used to. It definitely meets and exceeds our expectations,â€ť Hansen said.
â€śIt feels wonderful to have the opportunity for such amazing housing,â€ť Mary agreed.
Hansen has been in the Army for more than three years and this is his second duty station. The couple agreed Urlas is the best housing theyâ€™ve seen during their time with the military. Although they were able to unlock the front door for the first time after the ribbon cutting, the coupleâ€™s belongings will be delivered later in the week.
Luck of the draw gave the Hansens the distinction of being the first Urlas residents. They were simply the next family in line on the waiting list for housing, said Glenda Brown, USAG Ansbach Director of Housing.
The two-story townhomes include either three or four bedrooms, two bathrooms, a kitchen, dining room, living room, a utility room with a washer and dryer and spacious front and back yards. The community also boasts brand-new playgrounds and sporting areas.
As an added benefit, the entire community is environmentally-friendly.
The construction of this project is unique; it is an environmentally sustainable community. The project features 22 ultra low-energy PassivhĂ¤user or â€śPassive Housesâ€ť and 84 units meeting German EnEV energy-saving standards, which are more efficient than traditional American standards.
James Noble, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Europe District chief of engineering said the passive houses are part of a European Army pilot program and will hopefully serve as a model for future sustainable construction.
â€śI think that the Hansens and other military families will find these houses to be very energy-efficient and comfortable. All of these houses are aimed at meeting the Armyâ€™s and the Corps of Engineersâ€™ goals of getting all of our facilities to be more energy-efficient with this project being a major step forward,â€ť Noble said.