New student housing community is the nation’s first to achieve LEED Platinum

A grand opening was held on Thursday for West 27th Place, a USC student housing community that will achieve the highest level of sustainability possible from the United States Green Building Council (USGBC). West 27th Place has a certification goal of LEED Platinum, the highest possible level available from the council. It will be one of only four Platinum certified developments in Los Angeles and the only student A grand opening was held on Thursday for West 27th Place, a USC student housing community that will achieve the highest level of sustainability possible from the United States Green Building Council (USGBC). West 27th Place has a certification goal of LEED Platinum, the highest possible level available from the council. It will be one of only four Platinum certified developments in Los Angeles and the only student housing project in the nation achieving this milestone.

housing project in the nation achieving this milestone.

Online PR News – 26-August-2011 – – LOS ANGELES, CA — A grand opening was held on Thursday for West 27th Place, a USC student housing community that will achieve the highest level of sustainability possible from the United States Green Building Council (USGBC). West 27th Place has a certification goal of LEED Platinum, the highest possible level available from the council. It will be one of only four Platinum certified developments in Los Angeles and the only student housing project in the nation achieving this milestone.

The grand opening, with former HUD Secretary and CityView Executive Chairman Henry Cisneros as the keynote speaker, was held on Thursday, August 18 from 11 am to 2 pm. West 27th Place is located at 530 West 27th Street Los Angeles, CA 90007.

The mixed-use community includes 161 apartment units and is being developed by CityView and Symphony Development. The community is now fully leased and students are moving in before the new school year starts. West 27th Place offers studios and one to four bedrooms, with square footages ranging from 425 to 1,364.

Located at the intersection of Figueroa and West 27th, the project will also bring 10,000 square feet of shops and restaurants to the area. USC students will be happy to hear that West 27th Place will include the popular hamburger chain Five Guys Burgers and Fries. The East Coast-based chain will occupy 2,600 square feet of ground-level retail.

“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,” said Henry Cisneros, Executive Chairman, CityView.

It is definitely environmentally friendly! West 27th Place will be the first student housing building in the nation to achieve LEED Platinum from the USGBC. “One item after another was analyzed and designed to deliver dual benefits—to suit the needs of tenants and also to be enviro-friendly,” explains 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.”

LEED is an internationally recognized green building certification system, providing third-party verification that a building or community was designed and built using strategies aimed at improving performance across all the metrics that matter most: energy savings, water efficiency, CO2 emissions reduction, improved indoor environmental quality, and stewardship of resources and sensitivity to their impacts. LEED provides building owners and operators a concise framework for identifying and implementing practical and measurable green building design, construction, operations and maintenance solutions.

“Consistent with the goals of the city of Los Angeles, we sought to be a LEED certified building,” says Cisneros. “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. It also makes sense from a long-term economical standpoint. Green buildings have a longer life expectancies and lower operating costs than their conventionally-built counterparts. These really drove our desire to go ahead and follow through very diligently with a sustainable building technique and the LEED Platinum certification.”

Like so much in real estate, the ecofriendly aspects of West 27th Place begin with location. The project is situated near multiple community resources and ample public transportation, including a stop on USC Transit’s A Route and a station on the new Expo light rail line. The parking garage offers preferred spaces for low-emitting and fuel-efficient vehicles as well as abundant bicycle storage.

Its location is not the only reason why West 27th Place is so sustainable. “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,” said Hilliard. “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.”

Quotable Quotes from Symphony Development President David Hilliard

1. Why is West 27th Place significant to USC students?
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 and passionate about this on our Facebook page.

2. What encouraged West 27th Place's green initiative?
Candidly, the City of Los Angeles motivated us to start it. Officials offered 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. 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. And, as I mentioned, our residents were very vocal/passionate about this on our Facebook page.

3. Is the green initiative the only thing that sets it apart from other off-campus housing in the area?
The building is fully amenitized, with a pool, spa, fitness center and recreation room. Private study rooms are located on every floor. Each unit has a full size washer and dryer as part of its appliance package. Other appliances include refrigerators, microwaves, ranges, dishwashers and televisions in every unit. The units are fully furnished unless otherwise requested by residents. Plus, this is one of the few student housing communities in the nation that is mixed-use. Students can take advantage of all the services to be offered by the ground-level retail—places like Five Guys Burgers and Fries.

4. Which aspect makes West 27th Place the most environmentally friendly?
Well, while building, we generated 95 percent less waste than similar projects and it is true we have low flow water fixtures and everything electrical in the apartments is energy star- right down to the exhaust fan in the bathroom. I believe it is a combination of those things along with the "active" green mentality which also includes our on-site recycling program and our heart to give back to the community and the world. Right now we are joining with "plant a billion" and for every $1 donated, they plant a tree. We have a "donation bucket" in leasing office. This is a partnership that goes beyond "earth day." it is something we sponsor "every" day. We also have motion sensor lighting in our common areas. This eliminates any unnecessary use of electricity. In addition to these items, we increased the insulating factors of the walls, windows and roof. We test all of the a/c and vent ducts to make sure they are as air tight as possible. We used a modular framing system whereby the walls were built off site, and assembled upon delivery to the job. This minimizes wood waste and increases construction efficiency. Our drywall waste was recycled, with the gypsum to be used in farming. The original brick building was deconstructed and the bricks were cleaned and recycled. Our landscaping consists of draught tolerant plants. The appliances are energy star rated. The furniture is formaldehyde free with recycled content. Additionally, we get credit for being near various forms of public transportation, including the bus, expo light rail line and the university's tram system.

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