Building Green at Southern Land Company

Southern Land Company site choice gives projects a head start towards LEED® certification.

In 2013, Southern Land Company completed its first LEED silver project – a luxury apartment building in Nashville called Elliston 23. Since then, the company has built two other LEED projects. 425 North Boylan in Raleigh, NC achieved LEED Gold, and 3601 Market in Philadelphia, PA achieved LEED Silver. Southern Land Company also expects to receive LEED Gold status for a fourth: RÊVE Boulder in Boulder, CO, which will be completed in 2018.

Southern Land Company will continue to pursue LEED certification for projects in the future, according to Tom Skube, Development Project Manager at Southern Land Company. Already, he says, the company has a leg up meeting certain green standards.

Southern Land Company typically builds its luxury multi-family projects in high-barrier-to-entry markets, Skube explains. “Many of the sites we target around the country naturally fit in with LEED because they are walkable, infill projects,” he says. “We earn a lot of points on the front end with site selection.”

The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System was developed by the U.S. Green Building Council as the national benchmark for green buildings. The USGBC gives points towards LEED certification for meeting standards in five categories: indoor environmental quality, materials selection, energy efficiency, water savings and site development. In terms of site development, building in high-density areas near basic services and public transportation options gives developers such as Southern Land Company points towards LEED certification. According to Skube, the USGBC rewards these practices to discourage sprawl.

Southern Land Company’s site choice generally helps achieve LEED status, but its RÊVE project in Boulder will also optimize energy performance. Some Colorado markets typically demand that of developers, Skube says. “Building a LEED-certified project is a no-brainer in Boulder,” he adds. “The minimum municipal energy code requirements reward efficient design.” Working with Boulder city officials, Southern Land Company has designed RÊVE to feature PV solar panels on its roofs, limited parking, EV charging stations, access to the city’s extensive greenway system and several other eco-friendly amenities.

Developers will gradually face pressure to incorporate these types of features in more markets, Skube says. For one, environmentally savvy buyers such as those in Colorado and similar markets demand them as a baseline. Second, according to Skube, energy-efficient buildings provide for lower utility bills for their residents, who are increasingly going to demand such perks.

For Southern Land Company, green building is a win-win. Not only does it save money on operational costs, but it’s also the right thing to do.