Residential REIT Pursues Sustainable Initiatives for Portfolio

Dees Stribling, Contributing Editor

Rochester, NY–Home Properties, a REIT that specializes in apartment properties in the northeastern U.S. and the mid-Atlantic, has unveiled portfolio-wide initiatives to improve the energy efficiency of its properties. Green is about being a good corporate citizen, the company says, but it’s also about saving green.

“Property management has implemented many energy conservation efforts, and we are seeing the payback in savings,” David Gardner, executive vice president and CFO of Rochester, NY-based Home Properties, said during the company’s 2Q10 conference call during the first week of August. For example, “we have retrofitted every unit at five DC-region properties at which we pay all electric with compact fluorescent light [CFL] bulbs, which have lower costs.”

That’s only the beginning for the apartment REIT. Through utilities sub-metering programs, residents have the opportunity to reduce energy consumption in their apartments by 10 percent to 30 percent each year. Newly developed Home Properties apartments are built with energy efficiency as a primary goal, following standards established by the U.S. Green Building Council.

Water-saving toilets, showerheads, and faucet attachments are being installed in apartments, along with Energy Star-compliant appliances. New residents are given move-in gifts with a green focus. Green cleaning supplies, reusable grocery bags, water bottles, and CFL bulbs are shared with all new residents, along with tips to further conserve water and electricity in their apartments.

About 65 percent of Home Properties’ 113 apartment properties have established recycling programs, according to the company. Some of those were even started by employees and residents working together, like the one at Ridgeview at Wakefield Valley in Westminster, Md. Company leadership plans on working with employees and residents to increase that percentage in the coming year.

In addition, Home Properties has partnered with a company that provides recycling services for various items regularly used at apartment communities, including CFL bulbs, batteries, and thermostats. Home Properties’ communities order recycling containers, fill them with these used items, and ship them back for recycling.

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