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Austin’s Mueller Earns LEED Gold, Looks To The Future For Neighborhood LEED Certifications


In 2007, the US Green Building Council talked to Catellus Development about participating in a pilot program for certifying entire neighborhoods under USGBC’s LEED program. 

Sustainability was already a cornerstone of the redevelopment of Austin's Robert Mueller Municipal Airport, now simply called Mueller. The 700-acre neighborhood recently became the largest neighborhood in the world to earn Stage 3 LEED certification, and the first in Texas to earn LEED Gold for Neighborhood Development.

Nearly 2,200 single-family homes in the neighborhood earned Austin Energy Green Building designation. Catellus and Austin’s economic development department (JV partners on the redevelopment) allocated 25% of all housing—single-family and multifamily—to be affordable. Wildflower Terrace (pictured) is a mixed-income multifamily residence for active adults.


LEED Platinum buildings include Dell Children’s Medical Center (above), Ronald McDonald House and H-E-B grocery store. The 84k SF H-E-B on East 51st Street (below) was designed by Lake|Flato Architects, Selser Schaefer Architects and H-E-B Design + Construction on a former brownfield sight.

But a string of sustainable buildings doesn’t constitute a sustainable neighborhood


The pilot was the next scale for strategies beyond individual buildings and looking at ways to manage sprawl, Center for Maximum Potential Building Systems co-director Gail Vittori tells us. CMPBS served as Mueller’s sustainability consultant. 

Many measurements for LEED ND are similar to LEED for individual buildings, such as green space, lighting and construction waste management, but taken to a heightened level to include streetscapes, parks, grocery stores and public spaces. 

Many solar panels, native plants and reclaimed water systems aid in saving and renewing energy neighborhood-wide. Of the neighborhood's 700 acres, 140 are parks, including lots of public art.

Mueller sets a bar for projects starting with a vision of sustainability and achieving it within financial parameters, Gail says. The developers are the beneficiaries, but so are the community residents