2008 Green Initiative Awards

By Diana Mosher, Editor-in-ChiefIn just a few short years, environmental awareness has gone from the sidelines to mainstream. During this time, we’ve seen many fine examples of green initiatives in the multi-housing industry. In 2008, the MHN editorial team launched its first annual Green Initiative Awards as a way to recognize achievement. Sharing details about the winners—and the finalists—will also help inspire other companies to adopt or expand their own green agendas.The entries were judged against the accomplishments of others in the same category as well as on their own progress/initiative in advancing the ideals outlined in their green mission statements. Client testimonials were also submitted. The judges discussed a number of trends that will shape the products and services offered in the multifamily marketplace going forward. For example, life-cycle assessment, deforestation, expected water shortages and cost-benefit analysis and whether long-term savings are part of the green story. The judges agreed that the bedrock of sustainability is third-party certification and that the marketplace will see further developments in this area as well as “cradle-to-cradle” manufacturing where old products are “reborn” as new products rather than disposed of in the landfill. In addition, as the multifamily industry becomes more adept at recognizing “green washing” (false or exaggerated green claims), we will see more disclosure about varying levels of green—from entry level to intermediate and advanced. In addition, the judges acknowledged that green initiatives can be hard to measure. Sometimes, quality can trump quantity. One judge noted, “You can do 12 things and not be as meaningful as one grand thing.” However, green is frequently in the eye of the beholder.The judges awarded a Green Product award to Bentley Prince Street for its climate-neutral Cool Carpet which can help customers achieve LEED Innovation credit. The USGBC awards a LEED innovation point when climate neutral products comprise 5 percent of the total project materials, by cost, if climate neutrality is a standard attribute of the product. In addition, all Bentley Prince Street standard broadloom and carpet tile products have achieved third-party verification from Sustainable Choice Gold certification Scientific Certification Systems (SCS). Detailed life-cycle assessments measure the CO2 impacts of Cool Carpet products and processes on the climate. The company invests in third-party verified carbon credits from renewable energy projects, carbon sequestration projects, and intermodal transport technology such as The Te Apiti Wind Farm in New Zealand to neutralize the CO2 emissions that the carpet represents.A second Green Product Award was given to Arbor Contract Carpet which offers the multifamily industry a 100 percent recyclable carpet line. The Infinity Collection, for example, is comprised of Nylon 6 carpet fibers that can be made into new carpet again and again—true cradle-to-cradle recycling. Convenient carpet reclamation services help ensure used carpet never ends up in the landfill. While carpets made of fibers other than Nylon 6 are not entirely recyclable, Arbor Carpet actively researches other methods to divert this carpet from landfills (6,6 fibers can be sold to auto parts manufacturers and polypropylene fibers to manufacturers of pipes for septic tanks). Since 2002, Arbor Contract has partnered with Carpet America Recovery Effort (CARE), a joint industry-government effort geared toward increasing recycling of post-consumer carpet and reducing the amount of waste carpet in landfills. As a result, Arbor has diverted 70 million pounds of carpet fiber from landfills. WeatherTRAK Smart Water Management by HydroPoint Data Systems Inc., was named a winner in the Green Services category. Water rate hikes now outpace those of energy. The WeatherTRAK technology applies weather data and site-specific attributes to create irrigation schedules attuned to landscapes’ true water needs. Every day, local weather data is wirelessly transmitted to WeatherTRAK smart controllers at customers’ sites, triggering dynamic watering adjustments. In addition, HydroPoint provides real-time data analytic capabilities that enable subscribers to control water usage and meet conservation and cost-saving objectives. Since Holiday Retirement installed WeatherTRAK in its San Diego property in 2005, this community has realized annual water savings of as much as 40 percent. This is good news considering water rates are expected to rise 60 percent through 2011 in San Diego. Post Properties garnered a Green Services award for the recycling portion of its “Post EcoActive” program. Although the city of Atlanta is Post Properties’ only market requiring an industry-wide recycling program, the company has used its Atlanta program as a model for nationwide expansion since 1995. Now, recycling centers are available in all Post markets for residents to recycle everything from newspaper to glass, aluminum, steel and plastic. According to Conex Recycling Corp., which handles Post’s Atlanta communities, the waste haul avoidance is calculated at $100 for every ton that is recycled. Nationally, Post’s Recycling Centers collect 840 tons of newspaper, glass and aluminum on a national basis. All carpet is recyclable and collected at the end of its life rather than taken to the landfill. Post will continue to encourage residents to utilize its Recycling Centers with awareness campaigns and conservation education.The Tower Companies received a Green Corporate Initiative Award for its “Beyond Green” program. A three-generation family-owned business, The Tower Companies is based in Bethesda, Md. and was an early proponent of green, pioneering new concepts such as wind power. The Tower Companies built Blair Towns, America’s first LEED-certified apartments in Silver Spring, Md. As an Environmental Protection Agency Climate Leaders Partner, the Tower Companies has pledged to reduce the atmospheric admissions attributable to its buildings. It had pledged to become carbon neutral by 2012 and reached this goal in 2008. Ahead of the green curve, The Tower Companies conducted a major renovation in the mid-1990s of the Millennium Building in Washington, D.C. This renovated building became Energy Star rated, placing it in the top 25 percent of the most energy-efficient buildings in the country. Forest City’s “Roadmap to Intrinsic Sustainability” also received a Green Corporate Initiative Award. This series of green business practices is a multi-phase process. Forest City’s “triple bottom line” approach to sustainability evolved from its redevelopment of the Stapleton Airport in Denver, a 4,700-acre mixed-use project. Stapleton’s dramatic results inspired the company to adopt sustainability as a core value. In 2006, a Sustainability Department was established to drive progress. By reporting directly to the CFO, board of directors and investment committee, the department ensures executive commitment and accountability. Sustainability was called out as a key initiative in Forest City’s 2008-2011 strategic plan. In January 2007, Forest City began requiring new development project teams to submit a sustainability “dashboard” for internal review. Another objective is devoting green resources to the managed portfolio, including 45,000 residential units. A utility tracking system informs decisions across geographies and product types and allows calculation of Energy Star ratings and carbon footprints per property.MHN congratulates all the winners of the first annual Green Initiative Awards. The entry form for the 2009 competition will be available at www.multi-housingnews.com in January. The 2008 Judges:Anne Sadovsky, Sales and Marketing Consultant, DallasChris Putnam, Co-Owner, Putnam-Pritchard Ecodesign Ltd., Santa Fe, N.M.Tim Button, Partner, Stedila Design Inc., New YorkMichelle Lauterwasser, Development Associate, Becker + Becker, Fairfield, Conn.Robin Reigi, Founder and President, Robin Reigi Inc., New YorkMeet the FinalistsProducts: Energy-Efficient Appliances: Fisher & PaykelHarmony Interior
Latex: Sherwin-WilliamsKitchen Cabinet Collections: AlnoEvolution Series Food Waste Disposers: InsinkeratorService:Rental Express e-Forms & e-Signatures: On-Site.comCorporate Initiatives: Gables Residential Inc. “Taking Care of Our Environment” Laramar “Green Team” AIMCO “AIMCO Energy Conservation” Clark Realty “Public-Private Partnership Sustainability”