For new development projects in Seattle, green ambitions exist long before architects, planners, and contractors are brought to the table because saying that a new project will offer “green living” is a big assertion—and one that Seattleites will take seriously. After all, the city allows development companies to skirt older building code requirements if a project’s design fosters innovative environmental improvement. With that kind of commitment to green initiatives, it comes as no surprise that Seattle developers are always finding new ways to push the green-building envelope.
AMLI Residential, a leading developer for luxury apartment communities in 11 cities across the country, including Seattle, is no exception. “A number of years ago, AMLI made a commitment to reduce the impact our business has on the environment,” says Scott Koppelman, senior vice president of AMLI Development. “This commitment was driven by our mission to create healthy, comfortable living spaces for residents and to be a responsible steward of our environment.”
AMLI’s two new Seattle developments, AMLI South Lake Union (already LEED Silver certified) and AMLI Mark24 (pending LEED Silver certification), both include all the trappings of luxury living—high-end finishes, fitness and recreation centers, and outdoor sky decks—but their locations were selected as a central component of each project’s green design. “We located our new Seattle developments in close proximity to employment centers, and in walkable neighborhoods offering the services, restaurants, parks and recreation opportunities, and other cultural amenities that make urban living so wonderful,” Koppelman says.
Mark24 is located in Ballard, one of Seattle’s most popular mixed-use neighborhoods, and South Lake Union is located in the up-and-coming South Lake Union district. “The South Lake Union neighborhood has evolved into a significant employment center with the Amazon campus, Gates Foundation, UW Medical Research Campus, and many others,” Koppelman says. “On the heels of that employment growth, the range of housing options, services, and bars and restaurants is constantly evolving, making it a very dynamic living environment.”
South Lake Union and Mark24 have the now common green features—smoke-free environments, low-VOC paints, community recycling programs, sustainable landscaping, and energy-efficient products and appliances—but they also have an unusual green feature: bike storage rooms with self-service repair shops. “Rather than tuck these bike rooms away in the lower levels of the parking garage, we are bringing them up to the ground floor and increasing their size,” Koppelman says. “Our bike rooms have more convenient locations, allowing residents to take the elevator to the ground floor, grab their bike from the bike room, and hit the trails quickly and easily. We are also adding equipment within those rooms such as bike-repair stands and tools, along with workbenches and air pumps to make maintaining your bicycle as convenient as possible.” Combined, the bike rooms’ location and features directly contribute to Seattle’s reduced car-dependency ambitions by making bike transportation more feasible for residents, a goal that’s also central to AMLI’s responsibility mission.
When both Mark24 and South Lake Union open to residents in spring 2014, Seattle dwellers are sure to be pleased with the buildings’ seamless integration of green design features, making living a daily green existence even easier than before. But that doesn’t mean that Koppelman and his AMLI Development team won’t stop improving on their own model; topping their previous designs is inherently part of their mission. “With each new development, we improve upon what we did in prior projects,” he says. “We determine which features achieve their sustainability goals and which ones don’t. We learn from that and adjust our sustainability program on the next project.” In Seattle, residents will be waiting to see what AMLI comes up with next.