Say what you will about LEED, but you have to give the U.S. Green Building Council props for reaching a very important milestone: the 10,000th residential building project to achieve LEED certification has just been named. To make things all the more sweet, the project in question received the highest rating possible, Platinum, and isn’t an eco-luxurious, tricked-out single-family home somewhere in Northern California — it’s a 22-acre, public transit-centric housing community comprised of 91 affordable units. And the icing on the proverbial cake, for me at least, is that this milestone project just happens to be located in my hometown of Tacoma, Wash.

Tacoma, a "gritty metropolis" beautiful, blue-collar port city located about a 45-minute drive south of Seattle (in good traffic) has experienced numerous rough patches over the years and frequently makes national headlines for unsavory reasons, mostly related to violent crimes. In “Thrice All-American,” singer-songwriter and erstwhile “T-town” resident Neko Case refers to the city as “a dusty old jewel in the South Puget Sound, where the factories churn and the timber's all cut down.” And then there’s that famous aroma of industrial pollution ...

So when good news comes out of Tacoma, especially on the affordable green housing front, it’s most encouraging. The project in question, Salishan 7, is the final rental phase of Salishan, a 1,300-unit mixed-income community spread across 188 green space-filled acres in East Tacoma. Salishan is the most ambitious redevelopment project in the city’s history. The award-winning new Salishan replaces a crime-ridden and decrepit 1940s-era housing project demolished in 2004. As noted by the New York Times: "Like Tacoma itself, the old Salishan was famous more for its seediness than its assets."

In addition to having bragging rights as the 10,000th LEED certified residential project, Salishan 7 is also the first Hope VI Redevelopment project in the country to achieve LEED Platinum certification and the first LEED-certified community to be developed by the Tacoma Housing Authority. Salishan 7 has also received an Award for Excellence in Sustainable Community from The Home Depot Foundation and 4-Star Built Green Community Certification from the Master Builders of Pierce County.

Built by Walsh Construction and designed by Torti Gallas and Partners, the 91 affordable homes of Salishan 7 (all but one, the residential manager’s unit, are Section 8) are built to perform 30 percent more efficiently than normal homes. Energy- and water-saving features of the one, two, three, four, and five-bedroom units include triple pane windows, air-source heat pumps, R-23 blown-in insulation, EnergyStar appliances and lighting, low-flow fixtures, low- and no-VOC paints, and smart metering. Additionally, contractors diverted 98 percent of construction waste from the project.

Remarks Michael Mirra, executive director of the Tacoma Housing Authority, said this in an official USGBC press release:

We are proud to be a part of the community of over 10,000 homes that have committed to excellence through the LEED for Homes program. Our LEED Platinum housing projects are less expensive to operate and are healthier inside, which means a world of difference to our residents.
A hearty congratulations to the USGBC for reaching the 10,000 LEED mark and especially to the Tacoma Housing Authority for finishing an important phase of a game-changing redevelopment project with such a big, green bang. This native North Tacoman is mighty proud.

Head on over to the Tacoma Housing Authority to learn more about this mighty impressive New Urbanism housing development (don't miss a “user’s guide” of sorts that highlights all of the green features in the Salishan 7 units). A 2007 New York Times article on Salishan is also worth checking out. And it's also worth mentioning another high-profile, LEED Platinum project in Tacoma of the non-residential variety: The Center for Urban Waters.

Via [EcoHome], [USGBC]

Images: Tacoma Housing Authority

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