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Los Vecinos Solar Affordable Housing (US)

Credits: ©2010 Environmental Design + Construction

As the first LEED Platinum-certified affordable multifamily development in Southern California, Los Vecinos set a new standard not only for the developer, Wakeland Housing and Development Corp., but also for green design at large. The project received the highest point rating in the history of LEED certification to date, according to the team. The 42-unit property located in Chula Vista is of exemplary design from beginning to end, earning it ED+C’s 2010 Excellence in Design Award in the residential category.


Los Vecinos Rendering2

Los Vecinos is a three-story building that boasts 42 apartments with one, two and three units ranging from 671 to 1,177 square feet and a 15,000-square-foot community center on the ground floor. ©2010 Wakeland Housing & Development Corporation

The journey towards this highly efficient development began with the site selection, according to the design and development team. The urban infill project is, by its very location, a practice in recycling. Los Vecinos was developed on the site of a blighted motel that had been closed due to crime and illicit activities. More than 75 percent of the demolished motel was deterred from landfill with recycling efforts, plus the reuse of the site utilized existing infrastructure. Additionally, the site is in a walkable neighborhood close to public transit and amenities.

Los Vecinos brings new attention to sustainability and responsible building within an affordable housings complex. Green features are a significant architectural design goal in both the interior and exterior. The U-shape design gives apartment interiors an open plan to take advantage of the incoming natural light and ventilation. Los Vecinos incorporates a variety of sustainable design techniques, including:

Energy: The photovoltaic system located on the roof and used as carport roofing generates approximately 90 percent of the project’s interior and exterior electricity usage. Carport photovoltaic panels are exposed as a visual demonstration of the on-site generation of electricity. Tenants receive monthly statements listing usage in order to encourage conservation. ENERGY STAR appliances, solar power and a variety of energy-efficient systems are featured in the award-winning Los Vecinos affordable housing development.

Water: Every residence includes low-water-use appliances and plumbing fixtures, such as dual-flush toilets, providing significant savings in water use. Water submetering supplies feedback to the end-user and, again, encourages conservation.

Building Materials: During construction, more than 50 percent of waste and debris was recycled. Recycled products were used in the foundation, flooring and insulation.

Indoor Air Quality: ENERGY STAR ceiling fans, enhanced mechanized exhaust in kitchens, humidistat in bathrooms (moisture control), and MERV-8 air filters were used throughout this project. In addition, a low-toxic indoor environment was designed in for the units at Los Vecino, including natural flooring materials, no-VOC paint, and urea-free cabinets and countertops.

In addition to the list of sustainable materials and design features incorporated into Los Vecinos, lessons of sustainability are found throughout the property in the form of unique art pieces crafted from varied recycled materials by a local artist. Integrated into the interior and exterior design, the pieces are both functional and educational. For example, the bike sculpture built of old bicycles serves as the bike rack for the community. The trash enclosure is customized with specially designed bricks, giving new life to old glass, and doors feature recyclables fashioned into displays. In total, more than 300 pieces throughout Los Vecinos set the environmental design apart.

Awards include: LEED Platinum certified; 2009 LEED for Homes Outstanding Multifamily Project Award; 2009 San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) Award of Excellence; 2009 SDG&E Sustainable Communities Champion Award; 2009 San Diego EarthWorks’ E.A.R.T.H. (Environmental And Restoration That Helps) Awards

Residents of Los Vecinos must complete a green training course and commit to an environmentally-responsible lifestyle. They can walk almost anywhere they need to go, too, with public services such as grocery stores, schools, health clinics, restaurants, bus stops, and the San Diego Trolley system located within a half-mile. More than 300 pieces of locally-made art depict energy conservation concepts and provide aesthetic reminders throughout the complex.


  Los Vecinos Case Study (486 kb)


Los Vecinos Solar Apartment Building Video Link

Wakeland Housing and Development Corporation (San Diego, California, USA)

Rodriguez Associates Architects (San Diego, California, USA)