A look back: The striking design of past LEED Homes Awards winners

Feature image: The LEED Platinum GREENLAB home in Dallas, Texas, a 2020 winner for Outstanding Single Family Project. Photo credit: Dave Tonnes-Panaviz.

USGBC recently opened nominations for the 2021 LEED Homes Awards, an annual celebration of each year's most original and transformative LEED residential projects. Through May 21, project teams will be sharing with us the work of which they are most proud. Curious about some of the exceptional LEED-certified homes that have been honored in past years? Here are just a few.

Affordable housing, beautiful design

Attractive design is not a feature limited to luxury apartment buildings. Award-winning LEED multifamily projects often demonstrate how building for energy efficiency can be combined with colorful facades and layouts that bring the community together.

In Albuquerque, New Mexico, the LEED Platinum Casa Feliz apartment homes offer 89 units reserved for families and individuals with incomes at 30–60% of the area median income (AMI). Design elements included integrating colors and shapes into the apartment doors and community building that are reminiscent of plants and animals native to New Mexico. The site's layout was inspired by traditional "urban village" patterns, where homes face the street with private front porches and are grouped together for sociability. Public plazas incorporate play structures, grape arbors and a sports field.

A central atrium lit up in blue and green stands out against a night sky

The LEED Platinum Casa Feliz project was recognized in 2018 under the Outstanding Affordable Project category. Photo credit: Patrick Coulie.

One of the 2020 winners for affordable housing was Freedom Commons of Syracuse, New York. The building houses 43 affordable units or individuals or families with incomes at or below 50% of the AMI. Eleven permanent supportive units are also designated for those who have experienced homelessness and involvement with the criminal justice system. The project team designed a central atrium space to maximize natural light for residents and promote social connectedness. Cost-effective design decisions led to use of simple materials, such as lap siding for colorful panels meant to evoke artwork on the walls.

Bright blue and red panels adorn an apartment building

The LEED Gold Freedom Commons project won in 2020 under the Outstanding Affordable Project category. Photo credit: Sustainable Comfort Inc.

Homes that blend structure and nature

In 2020, the LEED Platinum Sitka Apartments in Seattle, Washington, received one of the Outstanding Multifamily Project awards. Bringing the beauty of the natural environment into the city, the 384-unit mixed-use project has entrances that represent environmental characteristics of the Northwest—mountains, meadows, forests and waterways. It includes a rooftop community garden and vegetated roof areas, and its interior courtyard features a running stream, tree-covered hilltops and an imaginative take on a treehouse.

A man stands near a treehouse within a courtyard full of greenery

The LEED Platinum Sitka Apartments in Seattle, Washington, won in 2020 under the Outstanding Multifamily Project category. Photo credit: Benjamin Benschneider.

The previous year, the LEED Platinum Owen Residence was honored as an Outstanding Single Family Home. Among the green features of this net zero house are a focus on reducing waste and valuing landscaping that is sensitive to the local environment. The owners of the home in Little Rock, Arkansas, decided to forego a traditional turf lawn in favor of native plants, and the grounds are irrigated in part by rain barrels.

The front of a home, showing a large yard with native landscaping

The LEED Platinum Owen Residence in Little Rock, Arkansas, won in 2019 under the Outstanding Single Family Home category. Photo credit: 3wire Photography.

Every year, the LEED Homes Awards winners provide inspiration for how a LEED-certified single or multifamily residence can combine great design, sustainable features and innovative approaches. Submit your project for the 2020 awards.

Learn more

Learn more about the LEED Homes Awards