What could possibly be better than rich, shiny gold? Try platinum. The Albanese Organization's The Verdesian in New York City is the first LEED Platinum-certified condo tower in the country. The 252-unit community was completed in 2006 and officially earned Platinum status from the U.S. Green Building Council in January.

Platinum is the highest certification given by the USGBC and requires significantly more greening efforts than the Gold and Silver levels. But the extra work isn't stopping multifamily developers from pursuing top honors. In fact, in December 2007, the city of Greensburg, Kan., passed a resolution that all city buildings greater than 4,000 square feet, including city-owned housing projects , must be certified LEED Platinum. The city is rebuilding many of its buildings that were destroyed in a massive tornado last May.

Greensburg developers could take a few pointers from The Albanese Organization. Among The Verdesian's many sustainable features are a central air-filtration system that removes 85 percent of particulates in each unit; a high-performance exterior wall system with a vapor and air barrier; and a natural gas-fired microturbine and cooling system that contributes to 48 percent lower peak electrical demand. “Learning from our LEED Gold project, The Solaire, it was a natural progression to improve on what we had accomplished previously,” says Russell Albanese, president of The Albanese Organization. The firm expects that its next project, The Visionaire, will also achieve Platinum status.