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MCKINNEY, TX-Greenhaven, a 216-unit, class A complex, has become the first multifamily garden apartment development to attain LEED Silver certification. The U.S. Green Building Council designation comes just weeks after Frisco, TX developer FORE Property Co. celebrated the project’s grand opening.

Located at 8690 Virginia Pkwy., Greenhaven is anticipated to reduce residents’ carbon footprint by approximately 280 tones per year. It’s also anticipated that Greenhaven residents will use approximately 900,000 gallons less water each year.

Energy costs will amount to approximately $1.6 billion during the next 20 years. Sustainable design elements include Energy Star-certified appliances, windows, ceiling fans and light bulbs, programmable thermostats and duct tightness testing and low-volatile organic coumponds paints used inside the units. Construction began on Greenhaven in early 2009, with completion anticipated for the early part of 2010.

FORE partner Brad Miller tells GlobeSt.com the decision to go green with Greenhaven began long before the planning stages. In fact, “when we first looked at this site, and the fact this was in McKinney, a city with a substantial commitment to sustainability, our thought was, what better place to start than here?” Miller comments.

The USBC at this time doesn’t have specific requirements for multifamily projects. FORE worked around this by hiring a LEED consultant as part of the design time. The company also decided to follow the parameters outlined by LEED for single family homes.

Building for LEED certification also required a different mindset, especially in Texas. For example, Miller points out, energy-efficient heat pumps aren’t exactly a staple among Texas multifamily or single family homes given the climate. But such pumps are a prerequisite for LEED certification.

Then there was the fresh-air ventilation requirement. “That’s where a lot of developers stop and go ‘wait a minute, that costs extra money,’” Miller comments. But the extra costs weren’t all that much, he goes on to say; they ended up totalling approximately $1,000 extra per unit. “The costs of sustainability are definitely coming down,” Miller adds.

Miller says the Greenhaven “green” effort isn’t a one-shot deal. With Greenhaven as the sustainable prototype, the company is readying to launch construction on a green midrise project in Owens Mills, MD. Furthermore, FORE is going to retrofit its current holdings with other green features where possible.

In the meantime, Miller says there have been various lessons learned from the Greenhaven ground-up process, which will be useful in future similar developments. “What we learned was to try to make all of the decisions in as early as the process as possible, and to lay out all the options ahead of time,” he explains. “We would have been more thoughtful with a broader shopping list on the front end.”

Greenhaven offers one-, two- and three-unit apartment. Rents are between $699 and $1299 per month and sizes range from 675 square feet for a one-bedroom apartment so 1,362 square feet for three bedrooms.

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