THE U.S. GREEN Building Council's LEED for Neighborhood Development just closed its first public comment period. The National Association of Home Builders' National Green Building Standard is on the cusp of gaining final ANSI approval. There's also state programs such as California's GreenPoints certification and Colorado's Built Green program. So if you're sitting around waiting for a compact fluorescent light bulb to go off and make sense of it all, you're likely missing out.
“If you keep waiting, you'll be waiting again at this time next year, and you'll never get going,” says Doug Walker, senior vice president of asset quality and green initiatives for Highlands Ranch, Colo.-based REIT UDR. Walker knows about taking giant green steps: UDR is working to replace every single incandescent light bulb across the company's 10,000-unit portfolio. How to accomplish that 1.2 million bulb effort? “One step at a time,” Walker says. “Just keep breaking things down into smaller steps until you are at the property level.”
At BRIDGE Housing, green building has been integrated into every project since 2001, the year that LEED first launched in the commercial building space. “We're proud that we started before the buzz, and I think we try to stay away from the buzz and do what makes sense,” says Jesse Elton, a project manager who heads up the green building committee for the San Francisco-based affordable housing developer. “We've always had to be creative as affordable housing developers in selecting projects and putting together financing packages, and green is no different.” This year, BRIDGE will publish brochures for residents that highlight the green features of their building and also offer tips on how to live a more eco-conscious lifestyle.
Elsewhere in San Francisco, the market-rate value-add experts from Greenwood Village, Colo.-based Laramar Group want to achieve LEED certification for the Fillmore Center, a 1,432-unit apartment community that actually had its windows installed inside out when Laramar took over the property. Company managing partner and CEO Dave Woodward is excited about the prospect of certification but has no brand loyalty to LEED. “We're more excited to see what the NAHB comes out with on the Green Building Standard,” Woodward says. “But you can't stop moving forward with green. Anything else you can do in the meantime just helps you get that much closer to the NAHB, to LEED, or to any other standard.”
Doug Walker has a long list of green goals for Highlands Ranch, Colo.-based UDR. “First, we want the complete conversion to CFL bulbs in the common areas of all 175 properties,” says the REIT's senior vice president of asset quality and green initiatives. “Second, all new development projects will file for LEED certification. Then we'll get all redevelopment projects to implement our internal green guidelines, and finally we'll install new bulbs, thermostats, and shower heads in all 10,000 [units].”
Walker admits it's a hefty task but says UDR's green program—which includes a set of internal green guidelines—is all-inclusive. And up next? Hydrogen fuel cells. “Maybe in my lifetime, each unit will generate its own power,” he says. “Most people would say I've lost my marbles, but that's green. It's what big, visionary thinking is all about.”