Multifamily housing is intrinsi- sited close to public transit and mainstream the incorporation of
Ten multifamily housing cally green, making more efficient fitted with design measures that significant green building strategies
developments give high- use of land and infrastructure, lower energy and water bills have into all multifamily developments,
lowering individual energy bills an additional edge over their con- not mainly those aimed at the
density living an even with less heat loss per unit, and ventional counterparts. luxury market or at the affordable
requiring fewer building materi- Being close to neighborhood- housing sector.
greener spin. als per unit. With renters and serving retail as well as pedestrian-
homebuyers becoming more cost- and bike-friendly environments are Ron nyRen is a freelance architecture and urban
conscious in the current economic essential as well to allow residents design writer based in the San Francisco Bay Area.
climate and more aware of envi- to reduce their reliance on cars.
ronmental issues, developments One of the challenges ahead is to
1. Accordia Housing
CambriDge, engLanD, UniteD KingDom
Close to Cambridge’s city center, a site formerly occupied by bicycle and pedestrian paths. Each unit has dedicated bicycle
dilapidated, single-story 1940s-era government office buildings is parking, and the project is close to public transit and the city
being converted for high-density living. Feilden Clegg Bradley Stu- center. Precast concrete construction provides high thermal
dios of Bath, England, master planned the 23.5-acre (9.5-ha) site mass, supplemented by significant insulation to cut energy
for developer Countryside Properties of Brentwood, Essex, Eng- costs. Whenever possible, timber used in construction came
land, and designed the majority of the buildings, which altogether from sources certified by the Bonn, Germany–based Forest
include 378 residential units in a variety of building types, includ- Stewardship Council. Green roofs, permeable paving, swales,
ing apartment blocks, rowhouses, and semidetached homes. and reed beds enhance stormwater retention and filtration.
The design preserved more than 700 mature trees, with resi- The first phase was completed in 2006.
dences overlooking a variety of shared green spaces linked by
2. Carabanchel 19
As a way to accommodate Madrid’s fast-growing population—fueled by economic
growth and an influx of immigrants—the city’s housing authority, Empresa Munici-
pal de la Vivienda y Suelo, has been pairing foreign architecture firms with local
ones to bring fresh thinking to high-density public housing. In Madrid’s Carabanchel
suburb, Sheppard Robson of London teamed up with ACP Arquitectos of Madrid
to design the 107-unit Carabanchel 19. The five- and six-story blocks are organized
around three courtyards that maximize natural light and contain landscaping and
pools of water that cool the air.
A screen of white aluminum louvers wraps the entire exterior, providing protec-
tion from solar heat gain and wind. For individual control of their environment,
residents can adjust louvers above the balustrade level of their balconies. Con-
crete frame-and-slab construction and insulated walls work in combination with
extra-thick roofs to moderate temperatures. Rooftop solar thermal panels heat
the building’s water. The project was completed in 2006.
3. Cave Avenue Homes
banff, aLberta, CanaDa
The 19-unit cooperative housing of Cave Avenue takes cues from the natural
landscape. Located in downtown Banff, the Cave Avenue Homes project fol-
lows the site’s sloping topography, and the rooflines echo the distant moun-
tain peaks. The layout preserves an existing wildlife trail, while vegetated
roofs and native landscaping further help the structures blend in.
Thickly insulated walls, highly insulated and oversized windows, and heat-
recovery ventilators enable each home to rely solely on a high-efficiency gas
fireplace for warmth in winter. Rainwater is collected for reuse in toilet flushing
and site irrigation. Parking is tucked underground. Completed in 2005 for local
William mCDonough + ParTners
developer Arctos & Bird Enterprises, Cave Avenue was designed by William
McDonough + Partners of Charlottesville, Virginia, with IBI Group Architects of
Calgary as architect of record. The homes are paired with the mixed-use Bison
Courtyard at Bear Street, which includes retail and restaurant space as well as
residences and was completed a year later for the same developer.
5. Gish Family Apartments
San JoSe, CaLifornia
The Gish Family Apartments project addresses two
challenges: the high cost of housing in the Bay Area
and the scarcity of family housing in urban areas.
The 35 units include efficiencies as well as two- and
three-bedroom apartments, all renting to households
earning between 35 and 50 percent of the area
median income. Thirteen units are reserved for resi-
dents with developmental disabilities. The building
includes a computer center for residents as well as
a ground-floor convenience store and beauty salon.
Residents receive a free transit pass.
The redevelopment of a former gas station site, the
building includes rooftop photovoltaics; low-flow water
fixtures; low-emitting adhesives, paints, and sealants;
and highly insulated windows and walls. Designed by
the Office of Jerome King, a local architecture firm, for
local nonprofit developer First Community Housing, the
Gish Family Apartments were completed in 2007 and
received LEED Gold certification.
6. Intervale Green
bronx, new yorK
In the Bronx’s Charlotte Gardens Urban Renewal
Area, the local nonprofit organization Women’s
Housing & Economic Development Corporation
has cleaned up a long-vacant brownfield and built
128 units of housing for households earning 60
percent of the area median income. Because of the
high asthma rate in the neighborhood, improving
air quality was a concern: interiors make use of
low-emitting adhesives, paints, and sealants and
formaldehyde-free particleboard, while green roofs,
two landscaped courtyards, and more than 40 new
street trees remove carbon dioxide from the air
and soak up rainwater.
Other sustainable measures include low-flow
water fixtures, high-efficiency water boilers, and
high-recycled-content flooring. Marble and Italian
porcelain tile was diverted from the landfill and
donated for use throughout. Designed by Edel-
man Sultan Knox Wood Architects of New York
City, Intervale Green incorporates elements such
as red brick, decorative cornices, and ironwork
that reflect the architectural traditions of the
Bronx. The ground floor comprises commercial
storefronts, while a public sculpture garden
displays work by local artists.
7. Pine Ridge Townhomes
To blend into the surrounding neighborhood of single-
family and multifamily housing, the Pine Ridge Town-
homes development consists of two- and three-story
structures designed to resemble large single-family homes
in their massing. They are arranged around a central open
space to enhance views and daylight penetration into the
living areas, with a water feature, barbecue pavilion, and
play area. Completed in 2006, Pine Ridge includes 32
units: 19 are for-sale market-rate units and 13 are deed-
restricted community housing units for households earn-
ing 80 percent of the regional median income.
Window placement, overhang design, and building
orientation are intended to maximize heat gain during
cold months. Solar tubes bring sunlight into kitchens,
bathrooms, and internal circulation areas. Other sustain-
able strategies include radiant heat; nontoxic adhesives,
cabinets, paints, and stains; high levels of insulation;
and native, drought-tolerant landscaping. Close to public
transit, the site’s pedestrian and bike paths connect living arChiTeCTure
to a county bicycle path network. Living Architecture
designed the townhomes for developer Thunder Spring
LLC; both are based in Ketchum.
Making solar power more affordable to home-
buyers is a continuing challenge. Buyers of con-
dominiums at RiverClay in Denver, Colorado, were
able to take advantage of not only federal solar
tax credits and utility rebates, but also a mortgage
that includes the cost of each unit’s share of the
photovoltaic system of 30 rooftop 1.26-kilowatt
solar modules. Completed in 2008 for Zocalo
Development of Denver and designed by John
Gagnon of Samuel Engineering in Greenwood Vil-
lage, Colorado, the six-story, 60-unit RiverClay proj-
ect is located across from a seven-acre (2-ha) park
a couple of blocks north of Invesco Field stadium.
Nine of the condos are earmarked for households
earning 80 percent of the area median income.
RiverClay has been awarded LEED Silver certifica-
tion for features such as water-efficient fixtures,
reflective roofing to reduce solar heat gain, a high-
efficiency mechanical system, highly insulated
low-emission glass, and high levels of building
insulation. Close to mass transit, RiverClay provides
numerous bicycle parking spaces as well as a com-
munity bicycle maintenance facility.
9. Thin Flats
Located among the rowhouses of Philadelphia’s Northern
Liberties neighborhood, close to downtown, the Thin
Flats live up to their name: each of the eight two-story
duplexes, stacked in pairs, is only 18 feet (5.5 m) wide.
Facing the street, the complex presents a double facade:
a rhythmic composition of glass and metal panels punc-
tuated with openings stands three feet (1 m) in front of
the inner facade, providing shade and a sense of unity.
The top of the building supports both a green roof
and solar thermal panels for heating the building’s
water. A stormwater collection system brings water into
a cistern for use in irrigation. Inside, the concrete floors
are equipped with radiant heating. Skylights, open
internal layouts, and interior glass walls and staircases
allow natural light to penetrate throughout. Materials
were sourced from providers within a five-mile (8-km)
range. The creation of local development/design/build
collective Onion Flats LLC and its architectural firm com-
ponent Plumbob LLC, Thin Flats was completed in 2008
and is awaiting LEED Platinum certification.
10. Vento Residences
CaLgary, aLberta, CanaDa
Part of the city’s master-planned
redevelopment of a former hospital
site into an urban village, the Vento
Residences are located along an exist-
ing commercial corridor, a short walk
from light-rail and bus lines. The three-
story structure includes 20 two-story
townhouses organized around a sec-
ond-floor courtyard, with ground-level
commercial space and two affordable
housing suites for households earning
65 percent of the median income.
Completed in 2006, the building
reduces energy costs by relying on
a highly insulated exterior envelope,
radiant floor heating and heat recovery ventilators in each
unit, and extensive use of daylighting. The structure forgoes
mechanical cooling. A graywater recycling system collects 100
percent of rainwater from the roof and courtyard as well as
water from sinks and showers for reuse in toilet flushing and
site irrigation. Designed by Busby Perkins + Will of Vancouver,
British Columbia, for Windmill Development Group of Ottawa,
Ontario, the Vento Residences project has achieved a LEED-
Canada Platinum rating. UL