Salt Lake City is now home to the state’s first LEED Platinum certified multifamily residential building after the Alta Gateway apartments earned its LEED certification plaque this week. The four-story, 277-unit apartment complex scored 86.5 credits under the LEED for Homes rating system, surpassing the LEED Platinum threshold of 83.5 credits.
The project, located directly west of The Gateway at the 100 South block of 500 West, was certified under the LEED for Homes protocol, considered as one of the most stringent LEED protocols and one that is specifically geared toward low and mid-rise residential developments. The certification required field inspections of all installations, execution of energy components and building performance testing.
Developers Wood Partners worked with architect firm, Studio PBA, Inc., to ensure that the residential development was sustainable in three areas, sustainable sites, energy and atmosphere and indoor environmental quality.
According to a statement from the development team, the project utilizes a Stormtech systems, with large dome-like infiltration tunnels that stretch the length of the project when lined up end to end. Though the system is kept dry during normal to light rainfall conditions, it has the capacity and potential to manage the majority of stormwater from the roof and from the facility’s hardscape on site from significant storm events, protecting Salt Lake and immediate surrounding watershed.
Other on-site features include 91 percent drought-tolerant plants and non-watered landscaping.
The Alta Gateway scored a HERS (Home Energy Rating System) rating of 65 and 66. The project’s other energy efficient features include windows that block thermal conduction, high insulation levels, tested air-barriers, 100 percent high efficacy lighting, all Energy Star and high-efficiency appliances and low-flow hot water fixtures. According to the developers, the building’s water costs are low due to the low-flow fixtures and a high-tech irrigation system that features zone controls and high-uniform density spray heads.
Alta Gateway units feature a continuous fresh air system with dedicated ductwork that brings in fresh, outside air to every unit and heating and cooling equipment that does not short cycle. The equipment runs in intervals long enough to effectively remove occupant-generated humidity. Additionally, the units were constructed and finished with low toxin-emitting materials, paints and adhesives, carpet and carpet pad.
The project’s architects argue that another big impact on sustainability is the overall durability of Alta Gateway and the structure itself. LEED durability measures slow moisture intrusion from interior and exterior sources. A building that lasts is a building that does not have to be replaced at the expense of the environment. The project was also constructed with recycled material, many of which were locally sourced, that reduced the project’s impact on its surrounding environment.
An estimated 40 percent of emissions in the Wasatch Front come from buildings. But, despite the city’s current building boom, most local multifamily residential projects aren’t being built to LEED standards. With the exception of Alta Gateway, most of the city’s LEED multifamily developments were originally Redevelopment Agency of Salt Lake (RDA) projects. The RDA requires developers working with the city to work toward LEED certification, but in most cases, developers only strive for LEED Silver or Gold certification.
Yet, there is evidence that building to LEED standards is more affordable in Salt Lake than in other parts of the country. A 2016 report by RENTCafé.com, a nationwide apartment search website, found that nationally renters spend an average of $560 more per month to live in green LEED-certified buildings, but in Salt Lake, renters spend only $172 more per month to live in energy-efficient multifamily developments.
While there is a dearth of LEED residential buildings, the city is making gains in net-zero housing, buildings that produce as much energy as they consume, with the recent completion of the first phase of the Almond Street Townhomes, a 17-unit townhome development near 200 North and West Temple by Garbett Homes and the Living Zenith, a five-home net-zero development on the 1100 South block of 400 East by Redfish Builders.