Paseo Verde is adjacent to the SEPTA Regional Rail Temple University Train Station, the fourth busiest transit stop in Philadelphia's SEPTA system. (Photos: Jeffrey Tortaro)

The 120-unit development was the first in the United States to earn LEED Platinum for Neighborhood Development certification. The first project to earn the recognition was in China.

Philadelphia is one step closer to becoming the greenest city in the country with the opening of the transit-oriented and sustainable Paseo Verde development.

Asociación Puertorriqueños en Marcha (APM), a Latino-based nonprofit, partnered with green developer Jonathan Rose Cos. and the city of Philadelphia to create the 120-unit mixed-income development.  Fifty-five of the units are market-rate, with the remainder being affordable to households earning 50 percent or less of the area median income.

“It’s mixed-income housing that makes a great neighborhood,” says Nilda Ruiz, president and CEO of APM.

The project, which celebrated its grand opening in December, is the first in the United States and the second in the world to receive LEED Platinum for Neighborhood Development certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.

One of Paseo Verde’s primary sustainable features is its location. It is adjacent to the SEPTA Regional Rail Temple University Train Station, the fourth busiest train stop in the system. Ruiz says the community line has easy commuter access out to the suburbs where the jobs are and brings Latinos who have moved out to the suburbs back into the neighborhood. Secure bicycle storage and a car-share program are also available for residents.

The development boasts water efficiency and has both blue and green roofs, which will aid stormwater management and provide an outdoor space for residents, an underground retention tank to reduce the development’s impact on the city’s stormwater system, and low-flow water fixtures to reduce water usage by 30 percent.

The high-performance building envelope, high-efficiency heating and cooling systems, solar panels, programmable thermostats in each unit, and Energy Star lighting and appliances help to reduce residents’ energy costs.

The project also touts healthy living, with the development team using low-VOC paints, primers, and finishes, high-efficiency windows, and Green Label carpets to improve air quality.

According to Ruiz, there are a few residents who have told her they are asthmatic and are already breathing better in their new homes.

A healthier lifestyle is also encouraged by some of the commercial residents in the building. A clinic, which will provide low-cost health care services to the residents and the surrounding community, and a pharmacy are just two of the tenants among the 30,000 square feet of retail and office space.

The $48 million development included an array of financing, with the main sources being the low-income housing tax credit for the affordable housing and the New Markets Tax Credit for the commercial space.

Financial partners included JPMorgan Chase, Hudson Housing Capital, WNC, Local Initiatives Support Corp., AFL-CIO Housing Investment Trust's Building America, Citibank, the Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco, Philadelphia Office of Housing and Community Development, Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority, Philadelphia Industrial Development Corp., The Reinvestment Fund, and the Corporation for Supportive Housing.