Mother Earth Living

America’s Top 10 Best Green Condos

Natural Home’s Top 10 green apartment buildings.
By Natural Home Staff
Septmeber/October 2007
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The Elleven in downtown Los Angeles.
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Our picks for the nation’s best green apartment buildings may look like other urban high-rises, but inside they feature cutting-edge, energy-saving design that marries urban living with healthy indoor air and eco-friendly materials. Many of these sleek, ultra-modern residences—some under construction and others completed—are on track to qualify for the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED certification (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design). Our 10 favorites are listed alphabetically by city.

1. Boston, Massachusetts
Macallen Building

The luxurious 11-story, 143-unit Macallen Building, built to LEED Gold standards, features views of the Back Bay skyline. Management emphasizes a recycling program and a community-share car.

■  Green roof for storm water run-off relief
■  Innovative water- and electricity-saving technology
■  Abundant natural light; less electrical need
■  Rainwater used for landscape irrigation
■  Significant use of natural and recycled materials
■  More than 80 percent of construction debris recycled

Status: Finished July 2007

2. Chicago, Illinois
Wentworth Commons

After environmental remediation from a dry-cleaning plant, Wentworth Commons has transformed into a sustainable, affordable downtown housing project.

■  Low-emission materials and fly-ash concrete
■  Reflective roof
■  Highly insulated building envelope
■  Backyard stormwater runoff reduction features

Status: Finished June 2005; renting as available

3. Los Angeles, California
Elleven

Units in this chic, 13-story, loft-style building in downtown L.A.’s South Park area—which anticipates at least a LEED silver status—have all been sold. However, it’s the first in a series of four green residence high-rises will be completed in 2007 and 2008.

■  15 percent more energy efficient than state code
■  Low-toxicity building materials
■  75 percent of construction waste recycled
■  Complies with dark-sky requirements to reduce light pollution
■  Low-flow plumbing requires 30 percent less water than average

Status: Open and occupied

4. Minneapolis, Minnesota
Wellstone Apartments

A nonprofit development, these sustainable apartments will include 49 units of mixed-income housing with four units reserved for homeless individuals.

■  Solar thermal hot-water system
■  Increased efficiency of public heating HVAC
■  Energy- and water-conserving appliances; low-E windows
■  Native landscaping; rain gardens for storm water remediation
■  Low-VOC paints, sealants and adhesives

Status: Complete in 2008

5. New York, New York
Riverhouse

This 32-story waterfront condominium in Battery Park is seeking a LEED gold rating. It provides 264 luxury units overlooking the Hudson River and Rockefeller Park.

■  Geothermal energy for heating and cooling lobby spaces
■  Solar cells augment energy use
■  Energy-efficient triple-glazed windows
■  Planted roof areas for reducing heat and storm water runoff
■  65 percent eco-friendly materials
■  Preconditioned air in all apartments

Status: Completed in late 2007

6. New York, New York
The Visionaire 

The third green residential building built by Albanese Organization in Battery Park City, this 35-story, 251-unit tower is aiming for LEED Platinum certification.

■  Filtered fresh air in each residence
■  Solar and wind electricity
■  Pesticide-free roof gardens and rainwater recycling
■  Sustainable floors and cabinets
■  Low-VOC paints, sealants, adhesives
■  Low-E, insulated windows

Status: Complete in summer 2008

7. Portland, Oregon
The Casey

A standout even in super-green Portland, this 16-story, 61-unit building is aiming for LEED platinum certification. The building will feature a glass spire to reflect the Pearl District’s artsy ambiance.

■  Eco-roof for storm water management
■  50 percent more energy efficient than building code
■  Solar panels for common-area electricity
■  Low-flow plumbing, appliances
■  Recycled, locally sourced materials; sustainable flooring
■  95 percent of construction recycled

Status: Complete in late 2007

8. San Francisco, California
Arterra High-Rise Community

Located in the Mission Bay neighborhood, Arterra offers 269 flats and townhomes with sustainable urban luxury.

■  Low-VOC cabinets, finishes, carpet
■  Low-E insulated windows
■  Recycled-glass floors in lobby
■  Energy-efficient lighting
■  Dual-flush toilets and other water-saving fixtures and appliances
■  Close proximity to public transportation

Status: Completed in April 2008

9. Seattle, Washington
Fifth and Madison Condo Tower

The elegant 24-story tower in the financial district is part of a city block being renewed to LEED standards. Its plaza includes a half-acre public park and a stream.

■  30 percent more energy efficient than industry standards
■  Green roof plaza; rainwater catchment
■  95 percent of construction waste recycled
■  Water-efficient plumbing, fixtures
■  Formaldehyde-free building; low-VOC paints, finishes, carpets

Status: Completed in fall 2007

10. Silver Spring, Maryland
Eastern Village Cohousing

This 56-unit cohousing development was built in a reclaimed, neglected building. Its residents share decisions on common areas and community life. Eastern Village has a LEED silver rating.

■  Geothermal heat
■  Green roof planted with native plants
■  Only Energy Star appliances allowed
■  Bamboo flooring
■  Low-flow plumbing fixtures
■  Low-emission carpet

Status: Completed in 2004


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