Urbana Apartments

Seattle, WA

This 474,000 square foot,
287-unit apartment building in Ballard is certified Gold under LEED® for Homes Midrise


  • High performance, water-conserving plumbing fixtures
  • Exceptionally efficient appliance package, including a front loading washer
  • Humidistat equipped bathrooms that work in tandem with the bath fan to reduce humidity
  • Low-VOC paints
  • Greenguard plus certified carpets
  • Floorscore certified sheet vinyl flooring

As an all steel and concrete building, rather than the usual wood framing over steel and concrete first floors, Urbana’s design introduced a number of challenges and opportunities, as noted below. The residential units were provided with high performance, water-conserving plumbing fixtures, as well as an exceptionally efficient appliance package, including a front-loading washer.   Urbana additional credit earned for enhanced indoor air quality measures such as designing bathrooms equipped with humidistats that work in tandem with the bath fan to reduce humidity.  Low-VOC paints, GreenGuard Plus certified carpets and Floorscore certified sheet vinyl flooring contributed even further to the improved indoor air quality.

As the LEED for Homes Provider and Green Rater on the project, O’Brien360 provided testing and verification services, as well as guidance and technical assistance to the project team. Trades Training sessions were conducted by O’Brien360 throughout construction to help build capacity among the numerous trades onsite and to improve construction details that have a real impact on building performance for decades to come. The nature of concrete and steel includes an inherent thermal bridging quality which made insulating it well enough to meet the energy savings and air sealing requirements of LEED for Homes very challenging. 

However, the project team worked together to create a thermal assembly, including a series of different spray foam, rigid foam, and fiberglass batt insulations, which performs very well and earned the project a significant number of energy efficiency related points. Additionally, using the concrete and steel design made it particularly difficult to air seal and compartmentalize the units.  Metal framing has pre-cut ‘knock outs’ – spaces for running electrical wiring within the wall – making it very hard to control air flow or seal the building against heat and energy loss. 

O’Brien360 worked very closely with the contractor, Chinn, to troubleshoot and identify measures needed to acquire air sealing levels required.  Initially targeting LEED Silver, these extra steps and dedication from the contractor and subs helped earn the next level in LEED certification, Gold.

Resident engagement and education further extend the benefits of a LEED building.  O’Brien360 assisted Equity Residential by writing a user-friendly Resident Manual and providing an engaging training to property management and leasing staff.