VCA Green helped the project team at Adams Terrace navigate a LEED Gold certification, in addition to several other green building scopes of work

VCA Green has officially achieved LEED Gold at Adams Terrace, a success story in leveraging efficient, scattered-site affordable housing in Los Angeles.

The 86-unit development is home to senior households whose incomes range between 20-50% Area Median Income. Forty-three apartments are set aside for seniors previously experiencing homelessness.

Abode Communities, which served as both architect and developer, approached VCA Green to facilitate the LEED Gold certification as well as CALGreen compliance, HERS testing, building commissioning, energy modeling, and TCAC/CUAC. The organization has committed to minimum LEED Silver designations (or a similar rating system, like GreenPoint Rated) for every new residential property constructed.

VCA found cooperative partnerships with Khalifeh & Associates’ mechanical engineer and Walton Construction Inc., whose teams were equally committed to achieving the LEED Gold sustainability rating.

“Abode Communities strives to create communities that improve health outcomes for both residents and the staff who work onsite,” President and CEO Holly Benson said. “We work to prioritize open space, daylighting and views, and open air/accessible circulation, as well as provide onsite resident programming geared to improved physical and mental wellness.”


Rating system: LEED BD+C: Multifamily Midrise V4
Certification level, point total, certification date: LEED Gold, 62, 11/12/23 (both)
Gross floor area: Building I: 43,739 sq ft, Building 2: 39,100 sq ft
Rental cost: Affordable
Credit highlights:

Location & Transportation: Received regional priority for compact development
Sustainable Sites: Initiated pollution prevention and foundation protection plans during construction and operation
Water Efficiency: Reduced indoor and outdoor water use by 40%
Energy & Atmosphere: Solar domestic hot water systems provide 65% of energy needed for hot water
Materials & Resources: Insulation contains at least 25% post-consumer or 50% pre-consumer recycled content
Indoor Environmental Quality: 90% of indoor materials meet low volatile organic compound level limits
Innovation: Southern California Association of NonProfit Housing (SCANPH) Senior Housing Development of the Year at the 2022 Homes Within Reach Awards


Currently, Abode Communities’ portfolio boasts more than 1,100 LEED-certified homes, about half of which are certified at LEED Platinum. The sustainability component of the organization’s developments contributes to their mission to foster equitable, well maintained housing opportunity where residents can thrive.

Core pillars of that goal include healthy air quality, outdoor gathering spaces designed with native landscaping, proximity to community resources and public transportation, and reducing utility costs with high-performing buildings.

Location and Transportation

Adams Terrace is located within ½-mile walking distance from number of public services and other amenities, including several north/south and east/west bus routes. This walkability mitigates carbon emissions associated with the project and improves the surrounding public’s health, productivity, and happiness. The site also achieved regional priority for density, developing 98 units per acre.

Sustainable Sites

The construction team met storm water pollution prevention practices, like eliminating the debris that can contaminate the air and containing water on the site to reduce runoff. An integrative nontoxic pest control plan ensures moisture sources, like sprinkler heads and downspouts, operate away from each building to reduce chances for foundation rot. Plus, all cracks and joints in the exterior are sealed properly to prevent termites, rodents, and other nuisances from disrupting the buildings’ structure.

Water Efficiency

VCA coordinated the selection of 0.5 gallon-per-minute lavatory faucets, 0.8 gallon-per-flush toilets, and 1.5 gallon-per-minute showerheads. Landscaping in the courtyards, terraces, and rooftop lounge comprises mostly native and drought-tolerant plants, with no turf grass present on the property. These efforts result in a 40% reduction in water use from the LEED baseline allocation.

Energy and Atmosphere

A cool roof, high-efficiency ductless mini-split heat pumps and high-performance windows prevent both Adams properties from excessively heating up. Plus, the comfortable units are airtight and well insulated, passing all HERS tests. A solar domestic hot water system provides 65% of the energy needed for water heating. The sites’ energy performance is 18% below the ASHRAE baseline and achieves regional priority for energy use.

Materials and Resources

At least 65% of construction and demolition waste was diverted from landfills, finding new life through recycling. Plus, the buildings’ insulation includes at least 25% post-consumer or 50% pre-consumer recycled content, further diverting waste associated with the project. To encourage building durability, nonpaper-faced backer board installed in the bathrooms prevents moisture build up and mold, which improves tenant health.

Indoor Environmental Quality

Smoking is prohibited both on the property and within 25 feet of the LEED Gold buildings. Additionally, at least 90% of interior paints, coatings, flooring, adhesives, and sealants meet indoor air quality standards to reduce contaminants that the residents would otherwise breathe in.


Adams Terrace was awarded the housing types and affordability innovation point. This credit intends to promote socially equitable and engaging housing for residents from a wide range of economic levels, household sizes, and age groups.

The scattered sites were developed utilizing Low Income Housing Tax Credits, bringing “double the intended housing to a culturally rich neighborhood in Los Angeles,” according to the Southern California Association of Nonprofit Housing, which bestowed its 2022 Senior Development of the Year award to Adams Terrace.

Abode Communities provides resident services to stabilize seniors as they age in place independently and navigate the complexities of obtaining publicly available services, host social and emotional events, and provide health and wellness workshops that improve community connectivity. Abode Communities also partners with St. Joseph Center, a non-profit offering supportive services to the special needs population.


Ultimately, Adams Terrace demonstrates the unique intersection of supportive housing and sustainable development that green building certifications like LEED can provide. VCA Green was pleased to play a role in the nonprofit’s commitment to LEED Gold and bring the properties to one of the highest ratings possible while providing equitable housing opportunity to a rapidly gentrifying neighborhood in Los Angeles.

“It’s all about prioritizing the resident experience, whether that’s through sustainability, onsite amenities, or accessibility,” Benson said. “How we bring these buildings to life is critically important to the people who call them home.”

For assistance on your next third-party certification or code-compliant build, contact a VCA member below.

Moe Fakih, Principal

Robyn Vettraino, Principal

Glen Folland, Adams Terrace Project Manager
Dani Grace, Contributing Writer