How Sustainable Multifamily Is Finally Paying Off

Developers are seeing a good ROI on green features in apartments. It’s about time.
Jessica Fiur, Managing Editor
Jessica Fiur, Managing Editor

Sustainable features in apartment building design have always been lauded. Developers know the importance of going green. But throughout my more than 10 years covering the multifamily industry, I’ve heard—in whispers—that, sure, it’s important to be green, but making communities sustainable wasn’t worth the extra cost. And while renters claimed to want green features, they also didn’t want to pay for it.


This, luckily, seems to be changing. We are all aware of the damning effects of climate change. Renters, once considering energy efficiency and green features “nice to have,” are deeming them now “necessary.” According to AMLI Residential’s 2020 Sustainable Living Index, 47 percent of respondents said that green features played a role in where they decided to rent. Developers are noticing this, and they are quickly responding—incorporating smart technology and green amenities.

As Holly Dutton reports in “New-Generation Tools Redefine Energy Efficiency,” many buildings, at a minimum, have energy audits and LED lighting and energy star appliances and try to teach their residents about smart energy usage.

Building Passive Houses is also becoming more popular. And why not? It doesn’t just help the environment, it also gives a significant financial incentive to developers, including the ability to market “thermally comfortable” units to renters.

“For the most part, it’s not rocket science,” Jonathan Arnold of Arnold Development Company told Dutton.

Are you focusing extra effort into making your communities sustainable now? I’d love to hear more of your suggestions for going green. As always, feel free to reach out to me at