LANCASTER, CALIF. - Jamboree Housing Corp. has tried green building, and now it can’t get enough. In December, the Irvine, Calif.-based developer opened 72 apartments designed to meet the standards of Enterprise Community Partners, Inc.’s Green Communities initiative. It’s Jamboree’s first green housing development.

“We are using it as a benchmark going forward for the rest of our projects,” said Michael Massie, a housing development manager for Jamboree.

Jamboree consulted with Santa Monica, Calif.-based Global Green USA to choose design ideas that would add little or nothing to the cost of development, like painting the roofs of Laurel Crest’s buildings silver to minimize heat absorption from the vicious desert sun. Temperatures here often rise above 100 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer.

Other green features, like the $169,000 array of solar panels gleaming on the roof, added to the hard cost of construction, but more than paid for themselves. Laurel Crest received a $69,000 rebate for the panels from the state of California. The solar array also helped the project earn $35,000 in additional equity from the sale of 4 percent lowincome housing tax credits (LIHTCs). The panels are expected to save the property at least $6,500 a year in electricity charges, which the lender recognized by allowing the project to take out $91,000 in extra debt.

The final tally? A total of $195,000 in funding for $169,000 in solar panels.

Also, Jamboree didn’t pay a cent to locate Laurel Crest two blocks from Lancaster’s commuter train station and close to services like shopping and jobs. The development fit so well into the city’s planned North Downtown Transit Village that officials donated the site to Jamboree and pitched in another $3.4 million in city HOME funds.

In addition, because the residents at Laurel Crest are much less likely to rely solely on cars to get around, the city allowed Jamboree to build just 1.7 parking spaces for each of its two- and three-bedroom apartments—much less than Lancaster’s usual ratio of 2.5 spaces per standard two-bedroom apartment.

That left the developer room to install landscaping and a meandering walking path—features that fit the property’s urban infill style.

At least one green improvement did cost the project some money. Jamboree had already finalized its floor plans when it decided to meet the Enterprise green standards in 2005, which require the kitchen of every apartment to be ventilated directly to the outside.

“It took some creative carpentry,” said Massie. The extra work cost between $5,000 and $6,000.

Laurel Crest’s green design gave it an advantage in the competition to win tax-exempt bond financing from the California Debt Limit Allocation Committee, which favors properties with locations near public transit. Jamboree expects California to make these incentives stronger, which would benefit Jamboree’s future projects, all of which are expected to feature some level of green design.

Laurel Crest received $2.1 million in permanent tax-exempt financing through U.S. Bank and $7.6 million in equity from the sale of LIHTCs to Enterprise. The project also received $4 million from the California Department of Housing and Community Development’s Multifamily Housing Program in addition to the HOME funds from the city.