Top 5 LEED Platinum Projects in California

These communities range from market-rate and affordable to student housing. Find out which projects made the list.

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California has a special affinity to sustainability and green building and has long led the nation in environmental solutions that boast economic benefits. One of these metrics is represented by the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED system, which maintained California on the top spot based on the number of projects awarded the certification in the first half of 2021. Specifically, 29 communities were awarded a LEED certification, 12 of which received the Platinum designation.

In the list below we’re highlighting five multifamily projects that earned the highest level of certification in 2021 through June. The trend we’ve discovered in 2020 continues in 2021 as well—all these projects have at least one affordable component.

READ ALSO: Highlights of LEED Multifamily Certifications in 2020

Project Name Number of Units Number of Affordable Units Rating System Address City Date Certified
Millennium Santa Monica 356 38 LEED-HOMES MR v2010 2929 Pennsylvania Avenue Santa Monica 1/8/2021
Sterling Fifth Street 198 38 LEED-HOMES MR v2010 2100 Fifth Street Davis 6/3/2021
Las Ventanas 102 102 LEED-HOMES MR v2010 1795 Long Beach Boulevard Long Beach 6/14/2021
Estrella Vista 87 87 LEED-HOMES MR v2010 3706 San Pablo Avenue Emeryville 6/21/2021
Avena Bella 80 80 LEED-HOMES v2008 500 West Linwood Avenue Turlock 6/4/2021

1. Millennium Santa Monica, Santa Monica, Calif.

Millennium Santa Monica

Located at 2929 Pennsylvania Ave., the 356-unit property is owned by Dinerstein Cos. and Heitman. Yardi Matrix data shows that the construction of the project was completed in 2020, with aid from a $136.4 million construction loan funded by JPMorgan Chase. In January 2021, the LEED Platinum certification was awarded with a scorecard of 83.5 points.

The community offers a unit mix comprising studios and one- to three-bedroom floorplans ranging from 511 to 1,469 square feet and includes 38 affordable units. Millennium Santa Monica has 705 subterranean and above-ground parking spaces. Apartments feature energy-efficient Energy Star windows and kitchen appliances, energy-efficient air conditioning, heating and lighting, as well as programmable thermostats. Low-flow water fixtures and drought-tolerant landscaping improve water efficiency. Other sustainable features at the property include on-site recycling, fuel-efficient parking and electric car charging stations, as well as a carpooling/rideshare program.

Special attention was given to indoor air quality by use of advanced air filtration and ventilation systems and indoor contaminant-control features. In addition, construction materials were carefully selected and included recycled and regional materials.

2. Sterling Fifth Street, Davis, Calif.

Sterling Fifth Street

The 198-unit at 2100 5th St. is also a Dinerstein Cos. asset, designed for students attending the University of California Davis located just 1.5 miles away. This student housing project was completed in 2020, and according to Yardi Matrix, it used a $65.5 million construction loan originated by Comerica Bank. The LEED Platinum certification landed in June 2021 with a scorecard of 85 points.

The property has studios, one-, two-, four- and five-bedroom units that range from 553 square feet to 1,759 square feet, for a total of 575 bedrooms. The affordable component has 38 units. Sterling Fifth Street also features multi-level parking with 343 spaces and to encourage carbon footprint reduction, it offers preferred parking for fuel-efficient vehicles.

Water conservation is achieved by means of low-flow water fixtures, dual flush toilets and drought-tolerant landscaping. These reduce water consumption by up to 40 percent. Energy conservation of up to 30 percent comes from the installation of Energy Star windows and kitchen appliances, energy-efficient HVAC, tankless water heaters and lighting, and programmable thermostats. Throughout the property, there are high-grade air filters (MERV 8), carbon monoxide monitors and green label carpet and padding. In addition to the recycled and regional materials used in construction, the property features a community recycling program and is walkable and bike-friendly.

3. Las Ventanas, Long Beach, Calif.

Las Ventanas

All 102 units in the transit-oriented development at 1795 Long Beach Blvd. are affordable. AMCAL Multi-Housing and Las Palmas Housing and Development completed it earlier this year and the LEED certification dates from June 2021 with a scorecard of 84 points. Yardi Matrix data reveals that three construction loans were issued in 2019 for the construction of the asset: A $33.1 million loan funded by MUFG Bank, a $3.3 self-financed loan and a $1.5 million loan funded by California Housing Finance Agency.

Apartment floorplans include one- to three-bedroom units ranging from 681 square feet to 1,313 square feet. The property features Energy Star appliances and locked bicycle storage rooms. The community has a retail component of nearly 4,000 square feet and 82 parking spaces. Transit passes are included with rent.

4. Estrella Vista, Emeryville, Calif.

Estrella Vista

The 87-unit property at 3706 San Pablo Ave. is another fully affordable community owned by EAH Housing. The project broke ground in 2017 with aid from a nearly $2.9 million construction loan: $2 million originated by the City of Oakland and $860,000 funded by Wells Fargo Bank, and was finalized in 2020, according to Yardi Matrix data. In June this year, it received its LEED Platinum certification for a scorecard of 82 points.

The unit mix consists of studios and one- to four-bedroom floorplans ranging from 569 square feet to 1,572 square feet. It includes 6,130 square feet of retail space and 108 parking spaces.

Estrella Vista’s location is 1 mile from MacArthur BART Station and is served by several bus lines. The community has its own solar photovoltaic array and a solar thermal hot water system. In addition to energy-efficient appliances, the property has dual-pane windows.

5. Avena Bella, Turlock, Calif.

Avena Bella

Also fully affordable, the 80-unit Avena Bella at 500 West Linwood Ave. is another EAH Housing asset that has an additional phase underway. Finalized in 2013, the garden-style community received the LEED Platinum award in June 2021 with a scorecard of 83.5 points.

Residents can opt for two- and three-bedroom units of 820 square feet and 1,124 square feet and benefit from generous green and open space areas. The property has been fitted with energy-efficient heating and air conditioning system, as well as air filters for improved indoor air quality.

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