IN ITS 2009 STRATEGIC plan, Greenbelt, Md.– based Enterprise Community Partners made the decision to invest only in green housing by 2013. Just recently, the firm followed up that proclamation with a commitment to bringing the benefits of green to all housing by 2020.
The firm and its affiliates have been busy executing that plan via several tacks. In the past year, Enterprise Community Loan Fund received $5.5 million from Bank of America to expand its energy-efficiency and retrofit financing program, and Enterprise Community Investment closed its first loan under the Green Refinance Plus program.
Dana Bourland, Enterprise's vice president of green initiatives, talks about the obstacles apartment owners face in greening their portfolios.
What challenges do owners encounter in increasing the energy efficiency of their portfolios?
A lot of what we see is building the capacity to understand how your portfolio is performing from an energy, water, and health perspective.
So many times, we just don't know. We haven't positioned ourselves to understand the utility consumption of a property.
Retrofitting requires additional construction management time and staff . Once you know this is what you want, being able to do it and finding that capacity within your firm is a real challenge.
How does Enterprise help with that?
I thought we'd have to convince owners to [look at energy consumption], but that's not really the biggest challenge. [The challenges are] what additional technical support do they need, how do we help them navigate this process, and how do we make this as seamless as possible?
We've been working on a tool kit that has everything people need to retrofit their portfolio.
Do market-rate owners come to you with interest?
Yes, particularly on the resident-engagement price. Behavior is something we're all wrestling with, trying to figure out where the best practices lie.
What are your goals for the next few years?
We're making sure we're integrating green across our company so that we can deliver on our environmental commitment. The second thing is really getting serious about the 2020 Green Call to Action, which is a call to everyone in this space to bring the benefits of green to all housing by 2020.