A Santa Monica apartment complex that was designed by a local firm recently received a national architecture award for its emphasis on sustainability.

The 33-unit affordable housing development at 2602 Broadway was recognized by the American Institute of Architects for numerous features that aim to reduce environmental impact while simultaneously curbing financial strains on tenants.

The honor comes as engineers, developers, landlords, tenants and homeowners in Santa Monica and beyond continue looking for eco-friendly ways to cut costs amid California’s prolonged drought.

“It is really important to be creative and push the envelope in terms of sustainable development practices,” said Sarah Letts, executive director of the nonprofit Community Corporation of Santa Monica, which owns and manages the property.

Located at the southeast corner of Broadway and 26th Street, the complex was completed in late 2012 to provide affordable housing to low-income families who make between 30 and 60 percent of the area median income.

An $8.4-million loan from Santa Monica’s now-dissolved redevelopment agency allowed Letts’ agency to acquire the site, a vacant convalescent home, in 2009 and build the complex that stands today.

Sustainability factors into many facets of the residences, which were designed by Santa Monica-based firm Kevin Daly Architects.

Efficient, tankless water heaters keep utility bills down for tenants, who are responsible for paying for gas to cook, heat water and heat their apartments.

Without fans or air conditioners, the apartments maintain comfortable temperatures during summer months because aluminum awnings wrap around the sunniest windows to block direct sunlight.

The green roof is one of many other features. An underground cistern collects and stores rainwater. Window hoods control sunlight and temperature. All of the units have natural light and face a central courtyard.

“It means a lot to CCSM to enhance the built environment in Santa Monica,” Letts said. “2602 Broadway has a way of blending in to its surrounding community while at the same time standing out as a uniquely beautiful building.”

The two- and three-bedroom apartments are complemented by two community rooms, a computer room, a laundry facility and open outdoor areas.

The AIA jury praised the Santa Monica complex for its “lightness,” “surprising touches” and “delightful common space that unites the whole project.”

Other sustainability features were motivated by health-related factors. The interior paint has no volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Low-VOC carpeting, padding and adhesives and formaldehyde-free cabinetry also aim to improve indoor air quality.

CCSM has led many tours of its properties to show people the nuances and benefits of sustainable buildings. Letts said a delegation from China toured her agency’s property at 430 Pico Blvd., which earned LEED Platinum certification.

“We hope this building and several of our other green buildings … will be used as tools to educate the public and industry professionals,” she said. “Thoughtfully designed buildings can really enhance a person’s life.”

Contact Jeff Goodman at 310-573-8351, jeff@www.smdp.com or on Twitter.

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