by Brent Sauser
My wife and I had the opportunity to tour the recently completed AZUL apartments located in upscale Baldwin Park, Orlando, Florida. I was especially interested in taking the tour because this development was the first high density community project in central Florida to receive a Certified Level of LEED cetification. The area where AZUL is located was a former military installation that has since been converted to an award-winning residential, retail, and commercial community. The specific site was home to the old military barracks and was referred to as “the ugly building” from nearby residents. Demolition was not easy and included asbestos remediation. This qualified the project as a brownfield site, which gave them additional LEED credits.
The AZUL apartments stand as a more tasteful, well designed new landmark in a prominent area of Baldwin Park. 90% of all units have already been leased. We were informed that the overall additional cost to build to a LEED Certified level did not exceed 2% of the total construction costs. The biggest cost adder was providing the appropriate fresh air ventilation equipment to assure LEED compliance without causing an increase in mold and mildew from additional humidity.
The photos will show that building to a LEED Certified level does not require additional funds or exotic exterior aesthetics. In fact, the achievement is so subtle that you might miss the transparent plaque on the lobby wall. I refer to LEED Certified as “baseline construction”. If it doesn’t cost more to achieve then why not build to AT LEAST this level?
As developers seek higher levels of LEED certification (i.e. Silver, Gold, and Platinum) more distinctive features become noticeable inside and out, as well as a higher impact to the overall bottom line.
As I walked around the exterior and toured the $1,700 p/mo two bedroom model I was impressed with the attention to detail that the pursuit of LEED certification inspires. I credit all those who made this development possible. It represents what can (and should) be done without substantial additional cost. The AZUL facility is an excellent example of what all similar type construction should emulate; a new baseline for construction!
Upon leaving I looked back and noticed a strong east-west orientation with expansive southern roof exposure . . . but no solar array . . . anywhere. Even so, I felt thankful that AZUL raised the “bar” at least to the LEED Certified level. Congratulations AZUL! You did good!