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Sustainable design

Sustainable design

The redevelopment of High Point was the first large-scale project in the country to feature low-impact design in a dense urban setting. It continues to serve as a model development that protects the environment and promotes healthy living.

A pedestrian-friendly neighborhood

High Point's narrow streets, short blocks, and wide planting strips promote walking. The site's design encourages social interaction and physical activity, and decreases reliance on cars.


More than 20 old units were deconstructed in the initial phase of the redevelopment. The original materials, including lumber, plywood and plumbing fixtures, were salvaged, then sold or reused.

Construction strategies

Many sustainable design choices at High Point cost less than alternatives, including the minimizing of grading on the site, the stockpiling and reuse of topsoil, the reuse of demolished paving for trench backfill, and 25-foot-wide local streets.

A number of other design choices added minimal cost to construction, including the use of low-VOC paint, adhesives and cabinets; native, drought-resistant plants; airtight drywall; and modified, advance-framed, panelized walls.

Amenities with environmental benefits that came with added cost included Energy Star--rated washing machines and dryers, whole-house fans, closed-loop hydronic systems, tankless hot water heaters, Marmoleum floor coverings, windows with better thermal performance, the retention of mature trees, and the deconstruction of some old housing units.

The use of environmentally beneficial materials and amenities contribute to reduced utility expenses, which help offset the additional cost of the initial investment.

Natural drainage system

Built in partnership with Seattle Public Utilities, the innovative High Point natural drainage system manages all stormwater onsite, improves water quality, protects salmon habitat, and allows the built environment to mimic how water naturally drains.

More than four miles of grassy and vegetated swales form the backbone of the system. A drainage retention pond collects and cleans stormwater run-off, and manage water flow into Longfellow Creek. The pond, in addition to its environmental benefits, is also a central recreational amenity for the community. It is surrounded by a walking trail, features a park with an art installation, and its entire shoreline serves as a gathering place for neighbors.

Protecting air quality

350,000 gallons of alternative, ultra-low-sulfur bio-diesel fuel was used during infrastructure construction.

Breathe-Easy Homes

A partnership led by Neighborhood House secured $1.8 million in Healthy Homes grants. Sixty Breathe Easy Homes were built, which were specially designed to decrease the presence of factors that cause asthma. As part of the project, an environmental outreach program focused on improving resident health.

Preserving trees & open space

Using innovative preservation techniques, over 100 large trees were saved as part of the redevelopment. These healthy, functional, and aesthetically pleasing mature trees contribute to a unique neighborhood character, and enhance the overall quality of the community. In addition, approximately 2,600 new trees were planted, turning High Point into a green oasis. 

More than 20 acres at High Point are open space, including, gardens and a variety of parks. Open spaces are maintained using organic landscaping methods.