MHN Asks … About Green Design

How will sustainability shape the apartment industry in the future? Experts weigh in.

How do you think sustainability will influence multifamily design going forward?

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Eric Engh, LEED AP, Senior Vice President, Ryan Cos.

Eric Engh, LEED AP, Senior Vice President, Ryan Cos.
Eric Engh, LEED AP, Senior Vice President, Ryan Cos.

❝Sustainability initiatives and trends are influencing all aspects of multifamily design, from the selection of urban brownfield locations that allow better access to public transit and neighborhood amenities, to the use of non-toxic, low VOC and natural finish materials in units and common spaces. At Ryan, we’re working to create smarter living environments that are programmed to promote sustainability. Technology, in concert with improved architectural aesthetics, is enabling renewable energy systems to showcase sustainability in the form of exterior-mounted solar hot water tubing, window glazing systems with integral photovoltaic capabilities, subterranean thermal field recovery systems and more. Mechanical equipment efficiencies continue to improve with the application of magnetic fields in lieu of friction- and resistance-based internal gear operations, and building heating and cooling systems aligned with occupant body sensors regulate “spot” environmental comfort management, as compared to an entire floor or bank of rooms, maximizing the use of resources and decreasing operating expenses.❞

Matthew Rieger, President & CEO, Housing Trust Group

Matthew Rieger, President & CEO, Housing Trust Group
Matthew Rieger, President & CEO, Housing Trust Group

❝Sustainability is going to be a driving factor in multifamily family design moving forward, so much so that it will become the new standard. That holds true for both the affordable and market rate/luxury housing categories. For one, residents are demanding it—they care about things like sustainably sourced, renewable materials; about energy-efficient lighting and low-flow plumbing that conserves energy and water; and with the rise of Tesla and the electric car, about electric car charging stations around the community. These save them money over time, but more importantly, make them feel good about where they live. Our new luxury rental community in Mesa, Ariz., called Aviva, incorporates all these elements and is leasing up faster than any other community in the history of the area. On the affordable side, all of our properties must be certified LEED or to the National Green Building Standard which makes good economic sense over the long-term for the owner and resident.❞

Kobi Karp, Principal, Kobi Karp Architecture and Interior Design

Kobi Karp, Principal, Kobi Karp Architecture and Interior Design
Kobi Karp, Principal, Kobi Karp Architecture and Interior Design

❝Sustainability is the path for managing and running multifamily buildings in a cost-efficient way, and will be a major influence in multifamily design going forward. Sustainability allows for the use of highly efficient mechanical electrical and plumbing systems, (which allow) for lower overhead, lower maintenance costs and lower energy costs.

In multifamily construction, sustainability is cutting-edge and the driving force for keeping construction costs down to a minimum. As labor costs continue to increase, using sustainable building methods allows for more efficient construction and lower labor costs. Using sustainable construction materials allows for lowering shipping costs and using more local materials. For example, we bring aluminum made locally in the southeast U.S. and glass made in Florida, which allows us to retain local vendors and local labor. The concrete that we use in our buildings is locally manufactured and delivered to the site by local labor within short distances from the project site. Using sustainable design allows for creative design options which maximize the solar efficiency and the building orientation as the sun moves from east to west along the southern axis.

Sustainable design also allows for creative design options to maximize the building used by its inhabitants on a daily basis. Specifically, multi-purpose and multi-functions within the building envelope lead to greater efficiencies and sustainable uses by the residents.❞

W. Allen Morris, Chairman & CEO, The Allen Morris Co.

W. Allen Morris, Chairman & CEO, The Allen Morris Co.
W. Allen Morris, Chairman & CEO, The Allen Morris Co.

❝I think sustainability will influence multifamily housing, as well as the design and construction behind all new development. The largest immediate sustainability issue is the construction and carbon footprint of large and unnecessary parking garages that can be replaced by walkable developments in live-work-play-learn communities, as we transition to autonomous vehicles, shared parking, ride-sharing and mass transit in the very near future.

We are at that ‘awkward stage’ as we are designing and developing buildings with parking garages today, like middle schoolers we hope we can grow into beautiful, mature, productive adults.
In the meantime, people are not willing to release their cars, and even though they are using them less and less, they leave them in their apartment parking spaces, gathering dust.

We are looking for every opportunity to design new garages to be converted into other uses in the future. One issue is the internal conflict in communities with downtown height limitations. On one hand, to create a walkable community, we want to create density of people and uses, which requires multiple floors. We also want to create the necessary flat parking floors with high ceilings so they can be converted to other productive uses when they are empty. City planners may need to re-think those height restrictions to allow convertible ceiling heights for their garages without sacrificing necessary density.

Other sustainable elements we are incorporating into our apartment buildings include green living roofs, smart thermostats, smart glass, greenhouses and solar energy.❞

Craig Curtis, FAIA, President of Katerra Architecture

Craig Curtis, FAIA, President of Katerra Architecture
Craig Curtis, FAIA, President of Katerra Architecture

❝As an end-to-end construction and technology services company, Katerra applies systems approaches to remove unnecessary time and costs from building development, design, and construction. This includes the offsite manufacture of prefabricated building components, which we see as a key area of growth for the construction industry. For example, Katerra’s manufacturing facility in Phoenix produces interior and exterior wall panels, door framing, roof truss assemblies, floor systems, countertops and cabinets for rapid assembly at project sites.

Prefabricated building components are increasingly sought after for use in a variety of building types, especially multifamily, because they reduce construction time and costs while significantly improving quality control. Additionally, prefabrication allows us to better streamline the interior systems of our buildings and, in turn, spend more time on what matters most—a building’s design elements. The result is a building truly customized to the needs of the community and client.❞

You’ll find more on this topic in the June 2018 issue of MHN.