LEED BD+C: Multifamily Midrise v2008
Alvarado Road Apartments
LEED Gold 2012
Goals and motivations
What were the top overarching goals and objectives?
The top three sustainability goals for the Alvarado Road Apartments project include:
- Reducing the environmental impact of new construction by developing a high-density project on a walkable and highly-connected, university locale.
- A lower carbon footprint by adhering to stringent energy-efficiency standards.
- The Dinerstein Companies included strong indoor and outdoor water efficiency standards to reduce overall water consumption.
What were the most notable strategies used to earn LEED credits?
The thoughtful consideration of where we build greatly impacts the benefits realized from green building. The site selection and design of the Alvarado Road Apartments project is meant to support and cater to a green student lifestyle. The project is close to university and community resources, with excellent walkability and proximity to jobs and university open space. To encourage alternative means of transportation, The Dinerstein Companies included bicycle racks, preferred parking for low-emitting vehicles and residential ride share boards.
Photo by Don Russell
The project also considered strong water-use reduction strategies for the project and received exemplary performance points for high-efficiency irrigation system design. The irrigation system is supplied by a single water meter with multiple valve stations separated by sun exposure, orientation, and plant type. In addition, the irrigation system is further monitored by a Hunter controller with a solar-sync weather-based sensor that will adjust water times based on precipitation and evapotranspiration. Significant contributions to water use reduction were made by choosing plant materials and irrigation system types that are compatible, choosing a turf substitute that serves functionally within fire-lane areas and is also native to Southern California, mulching all planting areas to retain soil moisture, and choosing plant materials that are adaptable to the climate and microclimates created within the project site. As a recommendation to future project teams considering such strategies, the biggest challenge was researching and selecting an appropriate turf substitute that would quickly stabilize the soils with the fire land and also provide a drivable surface within the fire land. The choice of a pre-grown sod turf substitute consisting of multiple California native grasses was the solution.
The project also achieved additional points for water-efficient fixtures and fittings for all units, as well as ENERGY STAR dishwashers, designed to use less than 6.0 gallons per cycle.
While occupant energy use may be challenging to control, designing as efficient an apartment unit as possible serves to help occupants gain some control over their monthly utility bills. The Alvarado Road Apartments project, achieved 25.1% improvement over 2008 Title 24 Building Energy Efficiency Standards. This was achieved with the installation of high-efficiency heating and cooling systems with programmable thermostats, ENERGY STAR low-e windows, ENERGY STAR appliances and bathroom exhaust fans, high-efficiency gas water heaters and ENERGY STAR qualified lighting. Lastly, tight construction and appropriate-sealed duct systems will not only lower energy use during extreme weather conditions, but improve the comfort of the living unit.
Aside from LEED certification, what do you consider key project successes?
A key success for the owner is the ability to communicate to their residents their corporate commitment to sustainability as well as how residents can help positively impact the surrounding environment. Collectively, all parties in their own way continue to work to reduce the overall carbon footprint while decreasing utility costs at the same time.
What one thing saved you or the project team the most time, money, or helped avoid an obstacle during the LEED process? What one thing cost you the most?
The Dinerstein Companies elected from the outset to pursue LEED certification in the pilot of the LEED for Homes Mid-Rise Rating System for California, relying on a rigorous process of on-site testing and verification to verify performance of installed assemblies and systems. The project team was able to pursue a clearly-defined integrated design process to maximize credit opportunities and achieve lowest total job cost because of the early decision to pursue LEED. Consistent feedback from Project Managers indicates that having the ability to pre-plan for the additional cost of LEED and being able to cut as much cost as possible through bidding out the drawings early versus designing LEED elements late and avoiding costly change orders was a huge cost-effective strategy.
Photo by Don Russell
Probably the most challenging aspect of the LEED certification process was the integration of a whole-house ventilation system design with fresh make-up air for each living unit in the building. The design not only represented the greatest challenge, but the highest added cost and the greatest amount of time to develop a workable solution. The final solution was achieved through the early integration of knowledgeable consultants on the project. For San Diego's more temperate climate, the whole-house ventilation strategy consisted of a continuously-run exhaust fan with a dedicated fresh air duct into the return. This system supplied fresh air into the home and exhausted the stale air out. The continuous exhaust strategy was a value engineering idea from our mechanical subcontractor, who believed that the strategy not only meet both local mechanical code and LEED ventilation requirements, but would help reduce electric loads and maintenance costs.
What was the value of applying LEED to this project?
The advantage of LEED certification is that it helped create a more integrated design process for the project.
It helped the developer and contractor understand how to make the project more energy and water efficient, leading to a better building for both the owners and for the tenants.
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