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The First LEED-Platinum Certified Affordable Housing Pro...

The First LEED-Platinum Certified Affordable Housing Project: Tacoma, Washington's Salishan 7

Salishan 7 in Tacoma, Washington is the country’s first Hope VI Redevelopment funded project to achieve LEED-Platinum certification, the United States Green Building Council’s highest LEED for Homes green building standard. The HOPE VI Program was developed as a result of recommendations by National Commission on Severely Distressed Public Housing, which was charged with proposing

Salishan 7, LEED-Platinum Certified Affordable Housing ProjectsSalishan 7 in Tacoma, Washington is the country’s first Hope VI Redevelopment funded project to achieve LEED-Platinum certification, the United States Green Building Council’s highest LEED for Homes green building standard. The HOPE VI Program was developed as a result of recommendations by National Commission on Severely Distressed Public Housing, which was charged with proposing a National Action Plan to eradicate severely distressed public housing.  Salishan 7, the final construction phase of the Hope VI funded Salishan Redevelopment Project, is comprised of 91-units of tax credit rental housing, restricted to households below 50% of area median income.

Tacoma Housing Authority's Salishan Redevelopment Project Site Plan

Not only that, but the Salishan 7 affordable housing community earned the distinction as the 10,000th residential project to be certified to the USGBC’s LEED building standard. Each of the house designs, which also achieved 4-Star Built Green Community Certification from the Master Builders of Pierce County, is built to perform 30% more efficiently than an average home and tests at 2.5 air changes per hour at 50PA, or better, in blower door tests.

Among the homes’ energy-efficiency features are:

  • Triple-pane windows with a U-factor of 0.26;
  • R-23 blown-in insulation and R-49 ceilings;
  • Energy Star-rated appliances and lighting;
  • Ductless mini-split heat pumps;
  • Smart metering and Internet-based energy monitoring.

Originally a World War II temporary housing for shipyard workers, the contemporary Salishan neighborhood has come a long way with the help from urban planners and the community. With the rest of the 200-acre community at LEED-Silver, Salishan is now a mixed-income community filled with appealing modern design Craftsman-style homes. Salishan was developed to be a sustainable community through its walkable design, biofiltraion swales that retain 91% of storm water onsite, the use of two bus lines, and the construction of LEED certified public housing.  This is an important step in showing affordable housing providers that green homes can be the new bench mark even for large housing developments, because in the long run the operational savings far out way the capital cost upfront.

Affordable housing projects have changed considerably from the single-design architecture of old apartment style housing projects.

Are there any other examples of walkable, livable, affordable housing communities like Salishan?

Credits: Images and data linked to sources.

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Kennith George grew up in the Greater Seattle, Washington area and holds a B.A. in Urban Studies from the University of Washington. His interest began in architecture, but he quickly found his passion in urban planning and policy. He views much of t...

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