When my friend Mark Walther of American Communities invited me to the dedication of his latest project, a 66-unit affordable housing project in Koreatown, I was amazed to discover that the project was LEED Platinum Certified.
LEED is an acronym for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System™ certification. The LEED rating system offers four certification levels for new construction — Certified, Silver, Gold and Platinum — that correspond to the number of credits accrued in five green design categories: sustainable sites, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources and indoor environmental quality.
City Council President Herb Wesson Jr., along with City Council memberTom LaBonge and Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley Thomas, were all on hand at the dedication, eager to acknowledge the importance of this project for the development of Los Angeles. Mark Walther and his partners Frank Fonseca and Cindy Michaels as well as the American Communities family all received awards from the city in recognition of this special achievement.
This is not the first LEED Platinum Certified project for Mark and his team. American Communities have devoted themselves to achieving LEED certification on all of their projects. Projects that provide hard working, in-need families with clean, safe, healthy and affordable housing. The waiting list for housing in LA is long and deep, and the 3-bedroom units typical of American Communities projects are in high demand. It is only through redevelopment funds from the city and state along with private investor partnerships that such important and innovative projects are made possible.
Sadly, cutbacks in re-development funding throughout California have made this sort of development more and more challenging, and until funding is once again made available, it’s likely projects like this will remain scarce. As the cost of housing becomes increasingly expensive in Los Angeles it’s critical that affordable housing projects be expanded and not reduced.
Those of you who know me know that I am a huge advocate and supporter for sustainability. My personal experience with building a LEED Platinum Certified home taught me the intricacies of building to this, the highest of green certifications awarded by the United States Green Building Council (USGBC). The experience also taught me the commitment required of the builder in order to achieve such an accomplishment. It’s not easy! Congratulations to the American Communities team.
What are your thoughts on the current availability of affordable housing in Los Angeles? Do you agree that an emphasis on sustainable housing is key to the development of our city? Please share your ideas and leave your comments below.