Austin’s Mueller Becomes World’s Largest LEED Gold Neighborhood

The project has become the standard-bearer for sustainable development in Central Texas.
Mueller, Austin

Mueller, Austin

Austin, Texas—The 700-acre Mueller redevelopment in Austin is the largest neighborhood in the world to become Stage 3 LEED-certified by the USGBC and the first neighborhood in Texas to earn LEED for Neighborhood Development (LEED ND) Stage 3 Gold Certification under the pilot program.

“Mueller’s strength as a green community begins with its central location, which helps increase urban density, slow Central Texas sprawl and, ultimately, reduce commute times and auto emissions,” said in prepared remarks Gail Vittori, co-director for the Center for Maximum Potential Building Systems, which served as the project sustainability consultant. “Additionally, Mueller has achieved many sustainable milestones along the way in terms of its land use, building design, construction efforts and property owner commitments. All of these endeavors have resulted in a comprehensive approach to a community that promotes healthy design and sustainability, which underscore Mueller’s impressive performance and certification.”

“LEED for Neighborhood Development goes beyond individual green buildings and is changing the way we design and build sustainable communities,” added Mahesh Ramanujam, president & CEO, USGBC and Green Business Certification Inc. (GBCI). “By progressing to and achieving this certification, the Mueller neighborhood is helping to lead the way for the development of smarter and healthier communities while prioritizing environmental and human health in our built environment. Designed to inspire and help create better, more sustainable, well-connected neighborhoods, LEED for Neighborhood Development is the next step in achieving our goal of a sustainable building for all within this generation.”

Mueller’s sustainability results feature:

  • More than 1,175 single-family homes with an Austin Energy Green Building rating—more than 1,025 homes were awarded three stars, 63 homes earned four stars and another 87 earned five stars;
  • The project has three Platinum, six Gold and five Silver LEED-certified, including Dell Children’s Medical Center—the first LEED Platinum certified hospital in the world; Ronald McDonald House—the first building in Austin to earn LEED Platinum certification for new construction; and H-E-B at Mueller—one of the first grocery stores in the U.S. to earn LEED Gold certification, in addition to more than 40 Austin Energy Green Building-rate commercial/multifamily buildings;
  • Mueller builders have diverted more than 63,000 tons of construction debris away from landfills. Moreover, the project’s multifamily buildings are saving an estimated 26 percent on their indoor water user, while the commercial buildings are saving an estimated 32 percent;
  • The redevelopment project has hundreds of residential rooftop solar panels and electric vehicle thanks to a partnership with Pecan Street Inc. and Austin Energy;
  • The onsite Mueller Energy Center, a combined heat and power system, converts “waste heat” into free energy under the form of chilled water to fulfill Dell Children’s and other nearby businesses energy requirements;
  • The former airport and its few trees is being transformed into an urban tree canopy as 15,000 trees will be planted by completion, including more than 500 native pecan trees rescued from a nearby county. Currently, of its planned 140 acres of parks and open space, Mueller already has more than 50 percent (approximately 80 acres) completed. Moreover, the redevelopment uses native and adapted plants that require less water in all commercial, residential and park landscaping and is one of the first Austin neighborhoods to use the Austin Water utility’s “purple pipe” reclaimed water system, projected to offset more than 100 million gallons of potable water annually at final build-out;
  • Austin’s largest public art project dubbed SunFlower – An Electric Garden, a collection of 15 blue metal sculptures with heights varying from 18 to 24 feet that collects solar energy by day and light up at night and return excess solar energy to the grid, is located on Mueller’s western edge at Interstate 35.

“Mueller has become the standard-bearer for sustainable development in Central Texas,” said Austin Mayor Steve Adler. “From the beginning, the city of Austin and Mueller’s neighbors were instrumental in the creation of the Mueller master plan, making sustainability a primary goal of the airport’s redevelopment. Everyone involved, including Austin Energy Green Building, who established Mueller as a center for excellent and efficient design, should be proud of their role in earning this important distinction for Mueller and the City.”

“It’s incredibly rewarding to know how Mueller’s sustainability achievements matter to the overall health of the community,” added Greg Weaver, executive vice president for Catellus. “The collaboration of our development partners and the experts, both consultants and Austin Energy, has revealed creative ways to implement environmental building and sustainability practices consistently — and at a large scale — demonstrating what can truly be achieved.”

Image courtesy of Catellus