Goldtex Apartments Receives City’s First LEED Gold Certification; Developer Hopes More Follow Suit

Philly has a lot of "green" offices, but will developers of apartment buildings follow suit?

The Goldtex Apartments officially received the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold level certification this week, according to Mike Pestronk of Post Brothers, the developers of the green paneled building at 315 North 12th Street.

“It’s a pretty intensive process to get the certification,” said Pestronk, of the announcement. “We were surprised  when we found that nobody else has this certification–and that nobody else is really pursuing it.  It’s nice that it sets us apart, but it would kind of be better if we weren’t the only one.

“It’s a sad state of affairs for Philly. Developers don’t seem to care [about developing LEED Certified apartment projects].”

LEED is a rating program that uses a point system to determine how environmentally friendly a building is. Buildings are then judged according to the point system in a number of different categories, such as site sustainability, water efficiency and innovation. Goldtex is the first apartment building in the city to achieve the standard.

“A lot of consumers don’t know what LEED is,” said Pestronk. “It has as much to do with high quality design than greenness. It’s about making a healthy and happy living environment with things like air quality, insulation, and just good overall design.”

The building received 65 out of 110 possible points, putting it in the Gold level, which is the second highest of the four certification levels. The highest mark came in the sustainable sites category, where 21 of 26 possible points were awarded for things such as the accommodations for alternative transportation and the light pollution reduction. The poorest category was water efficiency, as the apartments did not receive any of the ten possible points.

Office buildings around the city, such as the Comcast Innovation and Technology Center, have led the charge in pursuing LEED Certified projects. However, things have been slower on the multi-family side of things, which is experiencing a new boom in recent times. “There’s so many new buildings but nobody is pursuing it, which is kind of crappy,” admitted Pestronk, whose development scope has largely consisted on large rehabilitation projects. Goldtex, for example, was a former shoe factory.

Paseo Verde, a LEED Platinum tranist-oriented apartment building east of Temple University, features 120 affordable units. It is the first such LEED development in the western hemisphere, according to the U.S. Green Building Council, which recently dubbed it the “Project of the Year” in August.

While LEED Certification might not be prevalent in apartment buildings yet, developers may have an incentive to incorporate this level of design in future projects: attracting retails tenants.

That’s the case with Bridge, a rising apartment community at 2nd and Race. The project is seeking LEED Gold status and Josh Weiss of MSC Retail said they’re currently in “advanced conversations with multiple high-caliber tenants” for the 13,500-square-feet of retail at the property. “LEED Gold is an appealing aspect for some retailers,” added Weiss.

FMC Tower, the other major construction project in the city, is pursing LEED Silver certification and will feature extended stay apartments by AKA. Additionally, the recently-opened apartment high-rise at 3601 Market is seeking LEED Silver Certification.

James Jennings contributed to this article, which was updated to include Bridge seeking LEED Gold Certification.