Q&A: Sustainable Tech in Multifamily

Q&A: Sustainable Tech in Multifamily

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Embracing sustainable attitudes and practices is a common goal for many forward-thinking builders—especially in multifamily, which has a largely young, eco-minded customer base.

 

Since 2012, Alliance Residential, one of the largest private U.S. multifamily companies, has developed policy, best practices, reporting, campaigns, training and messaging to embed sustainability into their company culture.

Kelly Vickers, Director of Sustainability
Kelly Vickers, Director of Sustainability, Alliance Residential

We talked recently with Alliance Residential’s Kelly Vickers, director of sustainability, and Ian Swiergol, managing director of the Southwest region, about their new Focus Green initiative.

Why is Focus Green important?

The nature of our industry impacts our natural ecosystems in a multitude of ways. We consume energy, water and raw materials, we generate waste and machinery emissions, and the goods we purchase to operate our properties and offices have inherent social and environmental impacts. Additionally, our changing climate and increasingly severe weather swings, like the relentless drought in California, greatly impact our development, acquisition and operations practices. Because Alliance has a large presence across many markets, it’s important for us to not only strategically consider how we can plan for and attempt to hedge against risks associated with climate change but to also continually look for ways to reduce the impact our business has on the environment.

Which energy- and water-efficient technologies are you using?

Energy-efficient technologies range from Energy Star-rated appliances, windows, fixtures and LED bulbs; high-efficiency mechanical equipment; solar PV; and electric vehicle charging stations. Water-efficient technologies include 100 percent drip irrigation; smart irrigation controllers such as HydroPoint WeatherTRAK; water-saving toilets, showerheads, faucets and aerators; and native, drought-tolerant landscaping.

How much energy or water is being saved?

With the WeatherTRAK smart irrigation controllers we’ve been seeing average savings between 25 and 38 percent in water. Broadstone Camelback, our first LEED Platinum development project uses on average 50 percent less water than other similar-sized communities in our Phoenix portfolio. A property we manage in Southern California recently retrofitted its apartment lighting to LEDs and is saving more than $30,000 annually.

Ian Swiergol, Managing Director of the Southwest
Ian Swiergol, Managing Director, Alliance Residential

How do you educate staff, residents and owners on sustainability?

We offer sustainability training through our virtual training platform, Alliance University, with topics ranging from our quarterly sustainability reporting to green product knowledge. We also hold annual campaigns to engage our onsite teams and residents in sustainability awareness efforts such as Fix-a-Leak Week, Save Earth Plant Trees Earth Day and Hydrate Responsibly.

How have you changed the way you market properties?

We’ve made a much stronger effort in marketing our green certifications such as LEED or National Green Building Standard, or other state-specific green building programs such as California’s Build It Green or Austin’s Green Building Program.

About 21 percent of our owned assets are green-certified, and as this number continues to grow, we’re ensuring that our onsite teams are fully educated on sustainable features and benefits. It’s basic product knowledge, but not everyone thinks in these terms and so it takes a little extra effort and time to get folks up to speed and to understand the what and why behind a property’s sustainable features and Alliance’s goals.

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[tps_title]Photo Tour: Alliance Residential[/tps_title]

Broadstone Lincoln Exterior
Exterior view of Alliance Residential’s Broadstone Lincoln community in Paradise Valley, Arizona
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About The Author

Steve Withrow, editor-in-chief of TecHome Contractor and TecHomeX, is a writer and award-winning author with 15 years of experience in science, medicine, technology and the arts. He joined the AE Ventures team in January 2015. He studied writing, literature and publishing at Roger Williams University and Emerson College. He has spoken to audiences around the world about comics, animation, poetry and children’s literature.

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