Solar helps innovative affordable housing earn LEED platinum

Selma Community Housing, a residential development in Hollywood featuring 66 affordable family homes, has achieved LEED for Homes platinum certification, according to a release.

Playing a key role in the designation, officials said, was a solar water heating system that offsets 42 percent of the annual energy consumption for water heating, a savings equivalent to avoiding burning 12,000 pounds of coal or 1,300 gallons of gasoline each year.

“Our investment will lower operating costs and reduce environmental impact on the community at large,” said Robin Hughes, presidentand CEO of Abode Communities.

The transit-friendly site, developed by Abode Communities on land owned by the Los Angeles Unified School District, is adjacent to Selma Elementary School, and will provide much needed affordable housing for LAUSD teachers and employees, officials said.

The project transformed a parking lot into a five-story, transit oriented development (TOD) within walking distance of the Metro Hollywood/Highland Red Line station. This improves environmental health by providing affordable livingcloserto the schools where employeeswork,and increases accessibility to public transportation.

“Incorporating sustainability measures on affordable housing developments helps reduce long-term operating expenses for building owners, saving tens of thousands of dollars that can be used to provide resident services and building upkeep. The highly efficient system we installed didn’t just help the project earn LEED platinum certification, it will save Abode Communities over $3,000 on their natural gas bill every year for decades to come,” said Jonas Villalba, vice president of business development at Promise Energy, the company that installed the solar system.

Besides being sustainably equipped to meet the growing threat of climate change, the Selma project highlights the need for affordable housing in Los Angeles, officials said. More than 1,500 renter applications were received for the 66 units.

According to a recent L.A. County renters report, Los Angeles needs more than 550,000 more affordable rental homes to meet the needs of its lowest-income renters. The project was funded through a combination of low-income housing tax credits and federal loan programs, including the California Department of Housing and Community Development Transit Oriented Development (TOD) program.

“The problem is, Los Angelescan’t meet our sustainability goals when people need to drive two or more hours for work each day,” said Andy Mannle, vice president of strategic development for Promise Energy. “And we can’t meet our affordable housing goals without building energy efficient homes that combat the rising costs of energy. So by building sustainable, affordable housing close to transit, we’re targeting both these challenges with the same project."

Topics: Architectural Firms, Associations / Organizations, Building Owners and Managers, Certifications, Construction Firms, Consulting - Green & Sustainable Strategies and Solutions, Energy Saving Products, Energy Storage - Solar Energy Storage, Engineering Firms, Exteriors, Multifamily / Multiunit Residential, Roofing, Solar Energy & Solar Power, Sustainable Communities, Technology, Urban Planning and Design, USGBC

Companies: U.S. Green Building Council

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