Attached housing in Salishan 7, the 10,000th residential project to achieve LEED certification.
Courtesy Tacoma Housing Authority Attached housing in Salishan 7, the 10,000th residential project to achieve LEED certification.

The 91-unit Salishan 7 affordable housing community in Tacoma, Wash., earned the distinction as the 10,000th residential project to be certified to the United States Green Building Council’s LEED for Homes green building standard. “Reaching this milestone signifies the continued transformation of the home building industry toward high-performing, healthy homes that save homeowners money,” Nate Kredich, vice president of residential market development for USGBC, said in an announcement.

To date, the organization has rated 10,161 homes, and an additional 38,000 are in the pipeline.

Developed and owned by the Tacoma Housing Authority (THA) and built by Walsh Construction Co., Salishan 7 is the first Hope VI project in the country to achieve LEED-Platinum. The 22-acre walkable, transit-oriented development is the last rental phase of the 1,300-unit Salishan community, located about five miles east of downtown Tacoma. 

Though Salishan 7 is THA’s first LEED-certified community, the organization already builds to meet Washington State’s Evergreen Sustainable Development Standard as well as continually striving for the practical benefits of durability and efficiency.

“We’re in it for the long-term; we realize savings over time,” says Salishan project manager Roberta Schur. “We operate these units for 40, 50, 60 years, so we will see that payback.”

Salishan 7 (pink, bottom right) is the final rental phase of the Salishan community.
Courtesy Tacoma Housing Authority Salishan 7 (pink, bottom right) is the final rental phase of the Salishan community.

Each of the houses, 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; and ductless mini-split heat pumps. Smart metering and Internet-based energy monitoring will allow residents to track and manage consumption and adapt practices appropriately. Other details include low-flow fixtures; drought-tolerant turf; low- and no-VOC paints; and bio-swales for stormwater management. In addition, contractors diverted 98% of construction waste.

“It’s exciting to be part of something larger,” Schur says of the group’s reaction to having the milestone LEED project. “We’ve achieved our own local milestones … but it’s nice to be part of something outside of ourselves.”

Katy Tomasulo is Deputy Editor for EcoHome.