Affordable Housing Receives LEED Home Platinum Certification

Mutual Housing at Spring Lake receives first LEED Home Platinum for affordable housing in Yolo County; also marks the first LEED certification for multifamily housing in Woodland.

Mutual Housing at Spring Lake recently received the first LEED Platinum certified home for multifamily affordable housing in Yolo County. The development also is the first such certification for a multifamily in Woodland.

U.S households use about one-fifth of total energy for the country. Mutual Housing at Spring Lake uses none because it produces as much energy as it uses. Spring Lake has solar panels on buildings and carport roofs that should offset all electric use annually. The community does not have gas.

“Mutual Housing at Spring Lake uses our natural resources efficiently and makes an immediate, positive impact on our planet,” said Rick Fedrizzi, U.S. Green Building Council chief executive officer, which developed the LEED certification program.

The 62-apartment and townhome community built by Sacramento, Calif.-based nonprofit Mutual Housing California opened this past year. Each home also has a real-time, color-coded meter that helps resident track their energy use—and stay within expected amounts for their apartment size.

A water-based system for heating and air conditioning adds to the energy savings, which are estimated to be 45,439 kilowatt hours annually, at a cost savings of $58,000 per year.

But, achieving zero-net energy (ZNE) is not just a matter of installing efficient systems. Sealing the buildings to create a strong barrier so that energy is not lost is also important. 

“It’s a much more complicated process to achieve zero-net energy than people think,” said Vanessa Guerra, Mutual Housing California project manager. “You have to design it in from the very beginning.”

With energy saving devices such as shower heads that turn off once water heats up, low-flow toilets, drought-tolerant landscaping and an intelligent irrigation system, there also should be a 40 percent reduction in water use and costs.

Nearly three-quarters of all waste generated by construction was recycled materials, including asphalt, concrete, drywall, lumber, cardboard and carpet. Making the complex ZNE only added 9 percent to the cost of construction.

The community also received the EPA’s Indoor airPLUS certification 

Mutual Housing has been using energy-saving design and construction since 2002 when it developed the first multifamily community with photovoltaic panels in the Sacramento Municipal Utility District. The nonprofit received its first Build It Green certification in 2010.

“We are proud to add this LEED Platinum certification to our development for agricultural workers,” said Rachel Iskow, Mutual Housing California chief executive officer. “Our vision is to bridge the green divide by bringing ground-breaking, energy-efficient technology to people who would not be able to afford it otherwise. Mutual Housing at Spring Lake was constructed to satisfy the City of Woodland’s inclusionary housing policy. Several funders made it possible to achieve a state-of-the-art, zero-net energy community.”

The city of Woodand helped fund Mutual Housing at Spring Lake.

Funding also came from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the California Department of Housing and Community Development, California State Treasurer John Chiang, Citibank, Wells Fargo, NeighborWorks America, Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation Community Fund, Roseville Bank of Commerce, Dignity Health—Woodland Healthcare, Bank of America, Comerica Bank, U.S. Bank, Union Bank of California, Mechanics Bank and Insperity. Citibank, NeighborWorks Capital and Wells Fargo are the lenders.

Mutual Housing's housing development work is underwritten by NeighborWorks America.

Founded in 1988, Mutual Housing California develops, operates and advocates for sustainable rental housing for the diversity of the region’s households.

A member of NeighborWorks America—a congressionally chartered nonprofit organization that supports community development nationwide—Mutual Housing has more than 3,000 residents, nearly half of whom are children.      

Through its focus on community, the nonprofit also provides training and mentoring as well as educational programs, leadership-building activities and services for residents and neighbors.