Apartment Property Set to be First LEED for Homes Gold in Alabama

The newly completed Phelan Flats apartment complex in Birmingham, Ala., has applied

Dees Stribling, Contributing Editor

Birmingham, Ala.–The newly completed Phelan Flats apartment complex in Birmingham, Ala., has applied for Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) for Homes gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. Once it’s approved, the property will be the first multifamily residential project in Alabama to win such certification.

As the first project from development firm Greenvine Properties LLC, Phelan Flats was completed in January, featuring two two-bedroom, two-bath apartment flats. Birmingham-based Herrington Architects formed Greenvine last year specifically to develop sustainable properties in Birmingham, with a focus on multifamily. Herrington Architects has designed nearly 10,000 mostly multifamily dwelling units in the Southeast.

According to Bruce Herrington, founder and principal of Herrington Architects, Alabamans previously had no options when it came to sustainably designed multifamily properties. More specifically, he adds, Birmingham has a great need for the redevelopment of areas in and near downtown that have experienced suburban flight.

Herrington says that LEED certification, which involves some time and expense for the developer, is nevertheless important to the project. “We wanted our sustainable design initiative to be confirmed by a third-party,” he explains to MHN. “This would provide it more credibility in the marketplace. Also, third-party verification of Phelan Flats helped us confirm that our interpretation and application of the concepts of the LEED for Homes program was correct.”

In addition to a location that will promote walking and cycling to University of Alabama at Birmingham, as well as major employment centers, Phelan Flats incorporates numerous sustainable-design features. They include a rain garden, durable exterior materials, and energy-efficient features such as high-quality windows and blown-in batt insulation.

Herrington notes that his initial goal was LEED silver, a step lower than gold, but “having a ‘green rater’ or ‘green verifier’ on our team enabled us to understand how we could achieve LEED gold with only a few minor adjustments.”

Herrington Architects managed to complete Phelan Flats without federal or state funding, which Herrington says demonstrates that sustainable design and construction for the multifamily sector doesn’t have to be cost-prohibitive. “LEED certification has provided us a strong example of what our architectural firm can achieve,” he says. “We have already used it in a number of Statements of Qualification we’ve submitted for various projects.”

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