Developer: Foundation Communities

Architect: hatch + ulland owen architects

Major Funders: Bank of America Merrill Lynch; Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco; NeighborWorks America; city of Austin; Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs; Austin Community Foundation; Citi Foundation; Enterprise Green Communities; Home Depot

For Foundation Communities, M Station in Austin, Texas, was a dream project.

The nonprofit hadn't built a new construction project in 10 years and had been mainly rehabbing old run-down properties into affordable housing. Executive Director Walter Moreau says the vision was to incorporate the best practices over the past 20 years into this project.

A main goal was to focus on the big environmental issues in Austin, which are transportation, water, and air conditioning.

“We felt the responsibility to make it as green as we could in those key areas,” Moreau says.

The 150-unit development is the first affordable housing built in one of Austin's new Transit Oriented Districts and is less than a quarter-mile from the new commuter rail platform. It features more than 70 covered bike parking spots as well as a dedicated spot for a local car-sharing service. To meet the city's stringent storm-water requirements, the project includes measures that result in a 70 percent reduction in landscape irrigation. And extremely efficient HVAC systems with centralized heat pumps have been included.

The LEED-Platinum project also utilizes solar hot water panels that supply 60 percent of the residents' hot water needs and a low-cost hybrid insulation strategy.

In addition, the $25.3 million development has a strong focus on education. The M Station Learning Center provides free after-school and summer education programs as well as daycare for preschool- aged children.