Highlights of LEED Multifamily Certifications in 2020

In mid-2020, there were more than 555,000 LEED-certified residential units around the world, according to data from the USGBC.

The ongoing health crisis has led to a number of overnight changes to daily routines, and the morphing of a large number of residences into remote offices has been one of the most significant ones. Those living in buildings making an effort to stay up to date with more environmentally-conscious features saw the benefits of their green buildings, while those living in standard properties most likely became more aware of the perks of green living.

LEED certification in residential properties stands as a strong indicator that the community meets the highest sustainability standards. A LEED-certified residential building will have lower utility bills because it has reduced energy and water consumption. A LEED-certified multifamily property is built with high-quality construction materials which provide a healthier indoor environment through improved air quality, as well as lower exposure to toxins and pollutants.

READ ALSO: Passive House Standards Gain Ground in Multifamily

We asked the U.S. Green Building Council to share data on the progression of LEED certifications on the residential front in 2020, and here are some of our findings.

Last year, 30 communities across the country received the highest certification level—LEED Platinum. California led all states by far with 14 winning communities. Next in line were Oregon (4), Washington (3), New York and Arizona (2 each), and Colorado, Hawaii, Minnesota, New Jersey and Ohio (1 each).

At the Gold level of LEED certification, a total of 93 properties received the award, with California still in the lead with 27 communities, followed by Ohio (12), New York (8), Massachusetts and Colorado (6 each), Michigan and New Jersey (5 each), Washington (3), Georgia, Maryland, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Texas (2 each), and Arkansas, Arizona, Washington, D.C., Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Nevada and Tennessee (1 each).

Below we’re highlighting five projects that received the LEED Platinum certification in 2020 and one thing that caught our eye, in particular, is that all of them have at least one affordable component.

Project Name No. of Units Rating System LEED for Homes Project Type Address City State Date Certified Certification Level
Villa Hermosa, Phase Two 153 LEED-HOMES v2008 Multi Family (low rise) 83805 Drive Carreon Blvd. Indio CA 3/5/2020 Platinum
Woody Guthrie Place 64 LEED-HOMES MR v2010 Multi Family (mid rise) 5800 SE 91st Ave. Portland OR 1/24/2020 Platinum
Orion Apartments 129 LEED-HOMES MR v2010 Multi Family (mid rise) 910 John St. Seattle WA 1/24/2020 Platinum
E2 Energy Square 57 LEED V4 BD+C: HOLR Multi Family (low rise) 20 Cedar St. Kingston NY 11/30/2020 Platinum
Urban Living on Fillmore 63 LEED V4 BD+C: HOMR Multi Family (mid rise) 609 N. Second Ave. Phoenix AZ 9/15/2020 Platinum

Source: USGBC

Villa Hermosa, Phase Two – Indio, Calif.

Villa Hermosa, Phase Two

This 153-unit fully affordable community owned by Coachella Valley Housing Coalition is located at 83805 Drive Carreon Blvd. The property—which is reserved for farmworkers only—was built in two phases: The first one delivered in 2014 and the second in 2019. Combined, the asset totals 54 buildings. Of these, 24 received the LEED Platinum award last year in March, with a scorecard of 96 points.

For the construction of the second phase, two construction loans were issued in 2017, according to data from Yardi Matrix: A $280,000 loan funded by Riverside County Economic Development Agency and a $16 million loan funded by Wells Fargo Bank. Villa Hermosa features one- to four-bedroom units ranging in size from 596 to 1,387 square feet and has 232 parking spaces.

Woody Guthrie Place – Portland, Ore.

Woody Guthrie Place

A ROSE Community Development asset, this 64-unit property located at 5800 SE 91st Ave. is also entirely reserved for lower-income residents. It got its LEED Platinum certification last year in January, with a scorecard of 98.5 points.

For its development, the owner resorted to an $8 million HUD loan originated by Walker & Dunlop, according to Yardi Matrix. The unit mix comprises one- to three-bedroom apartments with sizes ranging from 570 to 1,410 square feet. Although the number of parking spaces is limited to just 28, the property is a transit-oriented development, positioned within a quarter of a mile of a station. Sustainability features at the property include electric-vehicle charging stations, a secured bicycle storage room, a solar system that partially powers the community, LED lighting, oversized double-pane windows and a rooftop deck.

Orion Apartments – Seattle, Wash.

Orion Apartments

The seven-story, 129-unit boutique building at 910 John St. received LEED Platinum certification in January 2020, with a scorecard of 94 points. In addition to the LEED award, the asset is also Salmon-Safe certified.

Completed in 2018, the property was acquired by Belkorp Holdings from Vulcan for nearly $69 million, or $533,496 per unit, according to Yardi Matrix data. The development has 29 units reserved for lower-income residents. Its sustainability features include a rainwater harvest system, reduced water consumption, natural daylighting and passive ventilation, a solar photovoltaic system, reverse cycle chiller and green street development.

READ ALSO: Reviving the Past Through Adaptive Reuse

E2 Energy Square – Kingston, NY

E2 Energy Square

The property at 20 Cedar St. is a former bowling alley turned into the first affordable zero net energy project in upstate New York. In November, it received the LEED Platinum award with a scorecard of 86 points. The 57-unit Energy Square is also Energy Star-certified, Indoor airPLUS-certified and Zero Energy Ready Homes-certified.

Rural Ulster Preservation Co. completed construction in June 2020 with aid from three loans, according to Yardi Matrix: one self-financed ($1.4 million), one funded by New York State Homes and Community Renewal ($5 million), and a third by JPMorgan Chase ($9.3 million).

The unit mix consists of studios and one- to three-bedroom apartments and includes nine units for formerly homeless persons. The community also has three community development spaces: a community service facility operated by the Center for Creative Education; a nonprofit arts program that provides services for children and adults through art, music and dance; and an adjacent Caribbean restaurant and retail store that supports women-owned businesses.

The property is served by a 300-kilowatt solar array that is estimated to produce 352,000 kilowatt-hours per year. In addition, the heating and cooling needs are met through a geothermal system.

Urban Living on Fillmore – Phoenix, Ariz.

Urban Living on Fillmore

Native American Connections’ 63-unit fully affordable property is located in an Opportunity Zone at 609 N. Second Ave. and holds the LEED Platinum award since September 2020. The midrise community was completed in 2019.

For its construction, the owner received three loans, according to Yardi Matrix: one funded by the city of Phoenix ($1.9 million), another by BBVA USA ($14.1 million) and a $1.6 million loan held by Local Initiatives Support Corp. Urban Living on Fillmore comprises one- to three-bedroom units ranging in size from 526 to 1,244 square feet and has 104 parking spaces.

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