Sustainability, once considered a trend, is here to stay. Increasing legislation, resident demand, energy costs, and severe weather have all contributed to the mainstreaming of “going green” in multifamily housing. That’s why for today’s property managers and owners, it’s all about finding easy and economical strategies to sustainability.
Who Says It’s Green? And Why Is It Important?
LEED, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is a globally-recognized green building rating system for responsible sustainability. When analyzing what features residents are willing to pay more for, CoStar, a commercial real estate information provider, found that LEED certification was the second most important feature, second only to a central business district location.1 This puts the importance of LEED certification above other features like walkability, fitness centers, interior finishes, and newness of the building.
Multifamily homes up to eight stories qualify for classification under the LEED Homes rating system.1 While your property can pursue sustainability without certification, consider that CoStar also found that LEED-certification apartments can earn approximately 9% more rent than non-certified.1
Trends In Sustainability
While greener living spaces may cost more to residents, they don’t have to cost a fortune for you to implement. Strategies like daily utility monitoring and installing smarter lighting and plumbing systems may have a small upfront cost, but yield significant returns.
The most cost-effective green initiative for multifamily properties is common area lighting. Thanks to lower costs for LED bulbs, it’s more affordable to replace existing incandescent bulbs with LED bulbs. LED lighting uses about 50% less energy than traditional incandescent bulbs and last about 30 times longer. Beyond immediate energy savings, they can help save money on light bulb replacement over time.2
When it comes to conserving water, the big three initiatives are: installing low-flow fixtures; monitoring and repairing leaks; and smart irrigation. WaterSense labeled products like low-flow faucets, shower heads, and toilets are certified to be at least 20% more efficient, with no forfeit to quality or performance. Fixing leaky plumbing can save 10% on your water bill, 10,000 gallons of water, and ten months of laundry water.3
Did you know that up to 50% of the water used for landscaping goes to waste?5 Solve this by installing smart irrigation controllers that automatically adjust the watering schedule to meet current conditions. When properly installed, smart irrigation controllers create water savings of 40% to 70%.4
Install electric vehicle charging stations to position your community as forward-thinking and sustainability-focused. The electric vehicle market shows steady popularity and sales growth year over year.5 Not only that, of residents who plan to buy an electric vehicle in the next five years, 58% were willing to pay more rent for an on-site charging station - at least $10 more per month.6
Value Beyond the Competitive Advantage
Sustainability is a multi-faceted issue that’s not fading away. Beyond building better living spaces, it’s about properties that can withstand severe weather, rising energy costs, and comply with conservation codes. Not only that, but greener properties can attract more residents, add more value to your properties, and yield significantly lower operating costs. As “going green” becomes an integral part of the future for apartment living, consider how you can collaborate with your residents and external stakeholders to become more eco-friendly.
- U.S. Green Building Council, 2014
- Current by GE, 2016
- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 2017
- HydroPoint, 2018
- NASDAQ, 2016
- Multifamily Executive, 2016