LEED projects put Milwaukee at forefront of housing innovation

Notable projects include the world’s first Stage 3 Silver LEED certified neighborhood

Two Housing Authority of the City of Milwaukee developments, Westlawn Gardens and Olga Village, have earned prestigious international energy efficiency awards.

Westlawn Gardens has achieved Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design for Neighborhood Development (LEED-ND) Stage 3 Silver Certification, placing it at the top of an elite group of LEED certified developments that emphasize sustainability.

As the world’s first LEED-ND Stage 3 Silver-certified project, it is the highest rated neighborhood under current LEED standards (v2009).

“This innovative project represents a new vision for sustainable and affordable housing projects,” said Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett.

“Westlawn Gardens is a true example of how social, environmental and financial sustainability can be achieved within a public housing project’s limited budget.

It proves that even low and moderate-income communities can vibrantly revitalize themselves through smart growth and appropriate design choices.”

Westlawn Gardens, a redevelopment of the eastern half of the former Westlawn development, includes multifamily buildings, townhomes, and single-family homes housing more than 300 residents.

The residential portion of the development is now 100-percent leased, providing essential housing for the north side mixed income neighborhood.

LEED-ND recognizes development projects that successfully protect and enhance the overall health, environment and quality of life in a neighborhood. LEED-ND projects provide exemplary examples of smart growth, urbanism and green building.

The design of the 33-acre Westlawn Gardens neighborhood includes a number of sustainable features, including a 30,000-square foot community garden and sustainable food production program, geothermal heated and cooled apartment buildings, bioswale rain gardens, weather-resistant low maintenance exterior finishes, high walkability, and smart design choices, all of which qualified it for this certification.

Westlawn Gardens also features Milwaukee’s first LEED Platinum-certified home, the highest level of certification available. LEED for Homes recognizes homes that are designed and built for energy and resource efficiency as well as leading to more healthy and durable environments for occupants.

Olga Village, a senior apartment development, has also received a Silver LEED certification for its green building practices.

In addition, it has been awarded an “outstanding public energy efficiency project” distinction from State & Local Energy Report, a major national industry publication.

Olga Village is located on the campus of the United Community Center on Milwaukee’s south side.

“It is a significant honor to receive these recognitions,” said Housing Authority Secretary-executive director Tony Pérez. “We have prioritized energy-efficiency innovation and incorporated leading-edge design in our projects, which saves taxpayers money and gives our residents additional pride in their homes. These recognitions validate the work we do.”

State & Local Energy Report recognized Olga Village as one of four outstanding public energy efficiency projects nationwide. The building received the New Construction award in the publication’s National Residential Energy Efficiency Awards.

Olga Village received this distinction after implementing a wide variety of sustainable approaches and energy efficiencies in its design and construction.

The Housing Authority enacted a number of measures, including the installation of a 26-panel solar array on the roof and condensing gas boilers that will cut energy use for domestic hot water by 63 percent. In addition, the Housing Authority built ground-source heat pumps that connect to a 300-footdeep water loop, anticipated to achieve a 62-percent decrease in the energy needed for heating and cooling at Olga Village.

Olga Village and the attached UCC Senior Center bring affordable senior housing and an expanded community space to the city’s south side. The development includes 37 affordable homes for seniors and more space for community activities.

“Through our partnership with the Housing Authority of the City of Milwaukee, Olga Village has not only provided a new home to many low-income seniors, but with the expanded UCC Senior Center, we have seen a record-high utilization of our services of recreation, health and nutrition for seniors.

This project has been of huge benefit to the seniors living on the city’s south side,” said Ricardo Diaz, executive director of the United Community Center.

“With reduced energy use, the project provides an even greater benefit to the environment and the overall community. These kinds of projects are at the tip of a future wave for affordable housing and an improved quality of life in Milwaukee’s neighborhoods.”

“We are very proud of the work that has gone into our new projects,” said Pérez. “We are leading the way nationally in setting a new standard for affordable housing development. We thank the U.S. Green Building Council and State & Local Energy Report for recognizing our innovative projects.”

The Housing Authority of the City of Milwaukee provides affordable housing options to more than 10,000 Milwaukee families. In addition, the Housing Authority works with families to achieve self-sufficiency through economic, health and social programs.