Kevin Daniels didn’t have a choice of whether he was going to build green or not when planning construction on a new development in Seattle. Residents of the city passed an ordinance requiring all large-scale developments to be built to be LEED Silver certified.
The Stadium Place mixed use development, a Daniels Real Estate Co. project, is on track to obtain LEED Silver certification in compliance with the city’s specifications.
The final development will include 710 market rate units and 30 affordable units as well as retail and commercial space, according to a company fact sheet.
Daniels, the Seattle-based company’s president, is in it for the long haul, so he doesn’t mind having to spend the extra money in order to use green initiatives when building the project which overlooks CenturyLink Field.
“We’re building to hold it for many generations,” he said. “(By) investing money in all these green features, we believe it will pay off over these next few generations.”
The people who live in the city are the driving force behind the green building effort because living a sustainable life is truly a shared, widespread culture in Seattle, Daniels said.
“You look at Mount Rainer and it pretty well changes your point of view on the environment,” he said. “It’s stunningly beautiful.”
GREENING IN AN AFFORDABLE WORLD
Whether a developer is building affordable, market rate or luxury, the biggest draw to spend the money up front is to save money in the long run.
Economic savings is the biggest driving force when weighing the cost versus value in green construction for Columbus, Ohio-based Wallick Communities, CEO Tom Feusse said.
The company has about five to six projects under construction at any given time, he said.
In the most recent years, all of the construction projects have been working toward helping the environment in addition to resident’s pockets.
“Every project we do now is green and it sounds sexier than it is,” Feusse said. “When you say we do green, you might think it involves cutting edge technology, but it’s not always like that. We are doing the same things we would do if we built a house today. We put in things like EnergyStar appliances. We put in low flow water devices, things like that.”
Most of the properties in the company’s portfolio are between 25 and 45 years old, Feusse said.
So, preservation is what they are focusing on more than any other kind of construction and all their projects are green, he said.
Most of the green renovation work involves doing a solid sealing job around windows and using effective insulation. However, putting in fixtures to help conserve water and energy are also part of greening a unit.
The installation of cost-saving fixtures in affordable properties is an incentive because it helps operating costs, especially in Sec. 8 housing where a utility balance is calculated into the offset costs for both residents and landlords each month.
FIRST TIME DEVELOPERS
One development, in Cherry Hill, N.J., is the first LEED certified property for Philadelphia-based Klein Company.
Clay Chandler said the company wanted to build a new community with sustainability in mind.
“We decided we wanted to go green, so we went with LEED,” Chandler, Vice President of Development, said.
The community, Dwell Luxury Apartments, is composed of 233 units with about 15 percent being affordable housing.
And although the certification adds a substantial cost to developing a community, Chandler said it’s worth it because the units are being leased as fast as they’re being built.
“We felt strongly that we wanted to have a sustainable eco-friendly project,” Chandler said. “We know there are renters out there who want that. The argument is made that they want that but they won’t pay for it. But, what we have found, is that if all things are equal and one of them is eco-friendly, they will opt for that.”
Most residents have told the staff at Dwell that they chose the community because of the green movement, recognizable LEED certification and EnergyStar appliances.
The company did catch a break by using EnergyStar appliances because they were able to receive rebates through the state.
But there are other options besides using LEED certifications to build an eco-friendly community.
Developers at Charlotte-based Proffitt-Dixon have decided to develop a new luxury property using the NAHB Green guidelines and specifications.
The Fountains Uptown is the third green project the company has undertaken. While some properties pursued LEED certifications, this time the construction team will be seeking to build with the NAHB Green initiative in mind, one of the company’s managing principals Wyatt Dixon, said.
“LEED is a fantastic program,” he said. “NAHB is growing really fast and we just felt like for what we were doing it was a better fit.”
The 230-unit Charlotte development will include fresh air ducts in each unit for residents to have clean air in addition to the more traditional green components that will be installed, said Stuart Proffitt, another of the company’s managing principals.
The low flow toilets are expected to save more than 250,000 gallons of water each year but that doesn’t come without an up-front cost.
A toilet that flushes .8 of a gallon costs about $45 more per toilet than the standard toilet that uses 1.6 gallons of water per flush, according to Proffitt.
“We think it’s the right thing to do though,” he said. “There are things that we are doing that are required under the specifications for (green construction) that will add some costs, but it’s worth it.”