Thin Flats Chasing LEED Platinum


A lot of people in Pennsylvania have been talking about green building, but according to my quick research, no one in the state has received the USGBC's highest certification under the LEED for Homes program yet.  But that could change if the stars align for Thin Flats — the developer is seeking LEED-H Platinum for all residences and waiting on Energy Star certification.  Thin Flats includes eight, market-rate, up-down units split between four rows.  The newly completed project recently received case study treatment by GreenSource Magazine, and from what I've read, observers either love or hate the exterior facade.  Personally, I like it, but what do you think?


The development is expected to use 60% less energy, 50% less water, and divert 60% of construction waste from landfills.  In addition, rooftop solar thermal provides all the hot water for the units, and the entire place is coiled with efficient radiant floor heating.  Some other green features of Thin Flats include:

  • Green roofs and access for top four units
  • Rainwater cistern for landscaping use
  • FSC certified White Tiger hardwood floors
  • Low flow fixtures and Caroma dual-flush toilets
  • Low E, double pane, efficient windows
  • Concrete with 25% fly ash
  • Mostly Energy Star appliances
  • Abundant interior natural light
  • Heat recovery ventilation system
  • Homeowners manual explaining green features

According to GreenSource Magazine, Thin Flats was completed at a cost of $3.4 million.  Prices start at $549,900.  The project is located in the Northern Liberties neighborhood of Philadelphia and was designed by Plumbob, LLC; built by JIG Inc; and developed by Onion Flats.






Photo credits: © Mariko Reed Architectural Photography (facade & green roof only); rest of the images credit: Onion Flats.

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  • Eco Resort

    I love this eco-friendly, art deco look. Not every thing has to be black and simple to be chic.

  • metrohippie

    LOVE this project!

    You should profile the whole Onion Flats operation sometime… all they do is urban infill of epic proportions in Philly.

    I met one of the principals a couple weeks back at one of their projects and was totally jazzed on what these guys are doing.

    • Preston

      No joke, Josh, I think you’re right about that. I didn’t realize it, but these Onion Flats guys were also involved with the Margarido House that we talked about recently. Seems like everything they’re doing is both modern and in the LEED Platinum area of green.

      • Chad Ludeman

        This project is the best to date by the Onion Flats crew. They are a dynamic group started by three brothers. One is an Architect, one a Master Plumber and one a Realtor. Hopefully the market picks up soon and we can see more of their ambitious projects slated for the future get off the ground.

        I think you also profiled their Rag Flats project a long time ago that was their first jump into green development.

        • Ashton

          What is the ‘Onion Flats crew’? It sounds awesome. Philly is just amazing. There’s just so much interest in green measures out there!

  • Kevin D

    Sounds like the perfect skill set for a development company, great project.
    The green roof deck looks like a nice retreat for sure, maybe even worth the added cost, complexity and risk of leakage. At $549k, though, it won’t compete with the 100k house.

    Have they sold any?

    • Ashton

      Yeah, that’s a good point. A lot of “LEED” places seem made for the luxury market. Plus, a consultant out there (John Weiner?) was telling me that while Center City is totally committed to “Green”, everything’s completely different in the suburbs. I wish more people would think about connecting rain cysterns, or just sticking a bucket in their shower and using that to flush the toilet or wash the car!!

  • Catherine Holliss

    Love the facade – so great that it’s not the usual cookie-cutter design — and really perfect for a project that wants to set the bar high for sustainability as well… Kudos to the designers.

    • Ashton

      Yes, yes, it’s all nice and modern. But I think the reality of the situation is that “traditional” is going to stay “in” far longer and far more consistently. I visited Philly last week, and as I walked past this tall building with some odd, neon-esque squiggle sign on it’s top, I asked a friend and turns out it USED TO BE a luxury condo tower back in the 80s. That’s why I think it’s more exciting to hear about traditional-styled places that take the trouble to meet LEED (ha. see my posts above :) The MOST exciting is going to be when plain-old everyday residential construction starts to integrate those standards (and even better ones!)

  • Ashton

    It’s kinda cool, but kinda modern. there’s this other condo place going green that i just heard of that’s LEED and historically certified…can’t remember what it was called, but it was handled by a firm ‘green2gold’ and on DeLancy, I think. I thought it was awesome,that a place would go through the trouble to get luxury features LEED certified and it’s totally historically accurate windows LEED compatible!

  • Ashton

    I meant to respond to you, Eco Resort. :) I kind of like the modern look, but I think it’s cool that there are also places (like the one i described) that meet the certification AND will appeal to a more traditional, general public. :)

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