States throughout the U.S. are making significant strides in sustainable design, construction and redevelopment at the building level; this opens up conversations around community and city-level accomplishments in sustainable development. The U.S. Green Building Concil’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) is a demonstrated economic development tool and method of meeting carbon reduction targets, reducing waste, energy and water consumption. LEED-certified spaces also save money for households, businesses and taxpayers, reduce carbon emissions and create a healthier environment for occupants and the community.
Below is a list with the top LEED-certified states, based on the number of communities awarded the certification in the past two years, using Yardi Matrix data. The list only features communities with at least 50 multifamily units.
1. California – 200 communities
California leads the way for LEED-certified multifamily projects, with some 200 communities certified to different levels: an outstanding 32 achieved the Platinum level, 72 are Gold certified, 86 hold Silver certification and 10 are LEED Certified.
Of all certified projects, AMLI Uptown Orange stands out, having earned Platinum certification in February 2017, with a score of 90.5 points. Owned by AMLI Residential—recognized by USGBC as the Outstanding Multifamily Developer of the year in 2017—the 334-unit, two-building property occupies nearly six acres at 385 South Manchester Ave., in Orange County. The LEED Platinum award means the property has public transport access, bike repair and storage, and electric car charging stations. A portion of the building materials were regionally provided and also eco-friendly, including low-VOC paint, adhesives, sealants and coatings. In addition, the asset is equipped with Energy Star appliances, WaterSense shower heads, faucets and toilets designed to use less water. An on-site recycling program is implemented at the property and native, adaptive plans adorn the landscaping, further saving water.
2. Texas – 106 communities
Texas holds the second position with 106 LEED-certified communities. The Lone Star State now has eight communities with LEED Platinum certification, 23 LEED certified to the Gold level, 56 with Silver certification and 19 are LEED Certified.
One notable asset is Vantage Med Center in Houston, carrying LEED Silver certification since November 2017. The 22-story, 375-unit high-rise features on-site recycling, preferred parking for fuel-efficient vehicles and electric car charging stations. Completed in 2017, the property uses advanced air filtration and ventilation systems, energy-efficient Energy Star windows and kitchen appliances, energy-efficient air conditioning and heating, as well as lighting, programmable thermostats, low-flow water fixtures and drought tolerant landscaping. Combined, these features result in healthier air quality, fewer toxins, as well as lower energy costs for its residents.
3. Washington – 76 communities
Washington ranks third, having 76 communities with LEED certification—11 of which are LEED certified to the Platinum level, 21 hold the LEED Gold certification, 39 achieved LEED Silver certification, while only 5 are LEED Certified.
AMLI Arc, another AMLI Residential asset, earned the LEED Gold certification in 2009 with 66 score points. The 41-story, 393-unit residential tower is part of a mixed-use development that includes an office tower for Amazon in Seattle’s Denny Triangle neighborhood. The award means a 36 percent improvement on baseline building performance rating, with 20 percent recycled content building materials, 10 percent regionally extracted, harvested, recovered or manufactured materials, and 75 percent diversion of construction and demolition debris. Furthermore, the building managed to reduce water consumption by 50 percent in potable landscape water use and by 35 percent in baseline indoor water use.
4. Maryland – 73 communities
Counting 73 LEED certified assets, Maryland ranks fourth—one property is awaiting LEED Platinum certification, 21 are certified to the Gold level, 46 have the LEED Silver certification and 5 are LEED Certified.
A preeminent project is Tower Cos.’ partially affordable The Pearl—a transit-oriented community with 284 units located at 180 High Park Lane Silver Spring, certified to the Gold level in 2017 with a score of 64 points. The development also received Fitwell certification, the first ever residential Fitwell certification in the world. The property features 5,000 square feet of vegetated green roof, energy and water efficient appliances and fixtures, four electrical vehicle charging stations and more than 100 bike spaces and a bike-fix station and maps. During the construction phase, builders used environmentally friendly building materials, sourcing them locally whenever possible. Another sustainable feature of The Pearl is its ability to generate 4,500 kWh per year through a solar system installed at the property, which is integrated into 1,250 square feet of green roof, the first of its kind in the DC metro area. The community also has a 5,000-square-foot Urban Farm onsite that offers produce exclusively for residents. The company invests in the management of construction waste—they’ve set a goal to divert 70 percent of the building’s waste from landfills by 2020. To accomplish that, Tower Cos. has created a recycling and composting program that includes mixed paper recycling, commingled recycling, composting, electronic recycling and landfill waste. The affordable component consists of 64 units.
5. Massachusetts – 64 communities
Massachusetts shares the same rank with the state of New York, with only the distribution of certificates differentiating the two. Eight projects have received LEED Platinum certification in Massachusetts, 19 were awarded LEED Gold, 30 scored achieved Silver certification and seven received basic LEED certification.
Continuum is one of the Gold-certified communities, with the asset receiving the award for New Construction. The 325-unit, partially affordable community is owned by a joint venture comprising Samuels & Associates, Harvard University and Weiner Ventures. Continuum was finalized in 2017. The mixed-use development, located at 219 Western Ave. in Allston, also includes 35,000 square feet of retail in an area with a traffic count of more than 10,000 cars per day. The sustainability features installed at the property boast an energy use reduction of almost 26 percent, with the building’s exterior incorporating thermal insulation, air/vapor barriers and high-performance windows. All units are furnished with Energy Star-compliant appliances, low-VOC interior finishes, low-flow plumbing fixtures and large operable windows to provide ample daylight and natural ventilation. The smoke-free community has a large active green roof, secure bicycle parking space and electric vehicle charging stations.
6. New York – 64 communities
New York sits at the middle of the ranking with 64 projects: six assets achieved Platinum certification, 16 are LEED Gold certified, 30 were LEED certified at Silver level and 12 were LEED Certified.
Of the recently awarded LEED certifications, Avalon Willoughby Square in Brooklyn has been LEED Silver certified since October 2017, with a 36-point score. Standing 634 feet tall, the 326-unit development holds the title of the tallest building in Brooklyn. The units occupy floors 31-58 and average rents here sit at $4,234 per month. Sustainability measures at the property impact energy efficiency, water usage and transportation as well as air quality. To save on energy, the building has programmable thermostats, fluorescent or LED lighting in select common areas, energy-efficient windows, timer/motion sensors in select high-traffic common areas and Energy Star appliances. Bathrooms are equipped with efficiency toilets, low-flow shower heads, bath and kitchen faucets, as well as low-flow, drip or smart irrigation systems. The smoke-free community also features low-VOC carpet, paint and adhesives and sealants, bicycle storage and a recycling program for residents. Avalon Willoughby Square has direct access to the A, C, F and R trains through its own subway entrance.
7. Illinois – 63 communities
Illinois has 63 LEED certifications under its belt in the past two years: one to the Platinum level, 15 to the Gold level, 38 projects to LEED Silver certification and nine were LEED Certified.
Exhibit on Superior is a 34-story tower, one of Chicago’s LEED Gold winners, award given for eco-conscious building design and living. This smoke-free community, located at 165 W. Superior St., has 12,000 square feet of retail space in an area with a traffic count of nearly 20,000 cars per day. Sustainability features include recycling program on-site, public transportation just steps away, free bike storage and energy saving appliances.
8. Colorado – 56 communities
Colorado had 56 multifamily projects that received LEED certifications in the past two years: five were LEED Platinum certified, 28 Gold certified, 21 to the Silver level and two were LEED Certified.
One notable green asset is located in Denver at 6950 E. Chenango Ave. The Den received the LEED Gold award for building design and construction in July 2017 with a score of 76 points. Blackstone Group’s 325-unit transit oriented development includes more than 38,500 square feet of retail space in an area with a traffic count of about 36,000 cars per day.
9. Oregon – 52 communities
Oregon is on the list with 52 LEED-certified projects—12 were LEED Platinum certified, 29 had LEED Gold certification and 11 were LEED certified at the Silver level.
Earlier this year, the 296-unit Sky3, a The Molasky Group of Cos. located at 1221 SW 11th Ave. in Portland, was awarded LEED Gold certification. The owner invested in various sustainability measures including drought tolerant landscaping; drip irrigation system; double-pane, insulated windows; high-efficiency lighting systems, efficient mechanical HVAC systems, courtyard with reclaimed stormwater sculpture, low-VOC materials, water efficient fixtures, Energy Star appliances, preferred parking for electric vehicles, recycling facilities on-site. In addition, part of the materials used were either recycled or reclaimed, while the construction waste was safely recycled, reused and disposed of.
10. New Jersey – 49 communities
New Jersey completes our top 10 with 49 projects with LEED certifications—seven received certification to the Platinum level, 10 to the Gold level, 25 received the LEED Silver certification and 7 were LEED Certified.
Images courtesy of Yardi Matrix