LOS ANGELES — A new development at the University of Southern California offers students the chance to live a green lifestyle with "exceptional amenities" at West 27th Place, a new 161-unit student housing apartment building. The project also brings 10,000 square feet of shops and restaurants to the area.
Registered with the United States Green Building Council, West 27th Place has a certification goal of LEED Platinum, the highest possible level of environmentally conscious building available from the council. Should it achieve this anticipated certification, West 27th Place would be one of only four Platinum certified developments in Los Angeles and the only residential project achieving this milestone.
“One item after another was analyzed and designed to deliver dual benefits—to suit the needs of tenants and also to be enviro-friendly,” said David Hilliard, president of Symphony Development, the developer of West 27th Place. “We performed this analysis literally on every single component of the building, from windows to insulation to even our elevator, which is a high-speed OTIS unit that actually generates electricity on its down cycle and returns electricity to the grid. Not only did we install a high quality elevator but it also provided another green component to the building.”
Hilliard said there was a push for sustainability from the city and students using social media outlets.
“The city was offering to expedite planning approvals if we registered for any type of green certification. As we got into the project, we looked for ‘green’ options in every element of the construction and design. We started aiming for silver certification, but we found that if we were careful in our selection of materials and construction techniques, we could gain additional points here and there at a relatively small increase in cost. Suddenly we found ourselves aiming for gold, then platinum certification,” said Hilliard. “There is no other housing designed for USC students that currently has any kind of LEED certification.The green element is very important to USC students. We have numerous persons that their lease decision was wholly based on us being green and they have also been very vocal/passionate about this on our Facebook page."
“Consistent with the goals of the city of Los Angeles, we sought to be a LEED certified building,” says John Mavar, Symphony’s director of construction. “We found that there were actually several benefits. First, we found that most students have already adopted a more ‘green’ lifestyle. It seemed natural that students would seek out a ‘green’ building as their preferred housing choice. Another benefit of sustainable building was an ability to save on operating costs. Green building has a longer life expectancy. It also has lower operating costs than a conventionally-built counterpart. These really drove our desire to go ahead and follow through very diligently with a sustainable building technique. In fact, part of that technique has actually elevated us to a higher LEED grade—upon completion, we anticipate being graded as a LEED Platinum building. That is above and beyond our initial expectations for certification.”
The developers began planning the eco-friendly aspects of the building with location, as in all real estate, officials said.
The project is situated near multiple community resources and ample public transportation, including a stop on USC Transit’s A Route. The parking garage offers preferred spaces for low-emitting and fuel-efficient vehicles and bicycle storage.
“West 27th Place is student housing, but with amenities you might expect in a first class apartment building,” Hilliard said. “We have high-quality finishes in both the common areas and the interiors. There are some luxury items that may at face value seem incompatible with sustainable development, but what we’ve found is that austerity does not necessarily represent ecofriendly construction. For example, we have high quality flooring in both the laminated hardwood and carpeted areas. We were able to receive LEED points because the flooring was LEED-rated based on recycled materials. It turned out that we could achieve a high level of quality in the building and satisfy the LEED component. A resort-style salt water swimming pool and spa provides an ideal setting for socializing and relaxing, and also uses fewer chemicals than a conventional pool. The 24-hour fitness center and computer lab are designed with recycle materials in their furnishings and floor coverings. Each unit features nine-foot ceilings, a walk-in closet, and a high-end kitchen including granite slab countertops and all Energy Star black appliances.
Although both environmentally friendly development and student comfort were top priorities for the builders of West 27th Place, the ultimate goal was to create a new apartment complex that would fit the USC student community, officials said.
“We feel our desire to provide a new, ecofriendly, compatible lifestyle for the students of USC has been achieved,” he said.