The multifamily industry is all about going green these days. But Phoenix-based Alliance Residential is taking the idea two steps further by not only putting seven “Focus Green” initiatives into place, but by making Kelly Vickers the company’s full-time national director of sustainability. Here, Vickers explains to Multifamily Executive that when going green, even small changes make an impact.

MFE: Tell us about your new position and the main goals of the focus green initiative.

KV: It was a position that was created and started developing along with Alliance’s new sustainability program. The first main goal was to focus on our consumption of energy and put into place a big ‘focus green’ checklist, which we launched April 2. The seven main categories we are targeting are energy efficiency, water conservation, waste management and recycling, sustainable purchasing, environmental air quality, sustainable construction, redevelopment, and education and awareness.

MFE: How soon do you expect to put these initiatives into place and what have you done so far?

KV: It’s very extensive and we’ll be implementing these at our sites throughout the year, but the seven focus categories help us achieve our goals. We recently worked with HD Supply and analyzed all our purchasing habits for the year and picked green replacement products and get them at the same or lower cost. We know a huge amount of carpet and flooring goes into landfills every year and are trying to get communities to use a cradle-to-cradle product which is recycled into new carpet again and again.

MFE: How much does Alliance anticipate spending on these programs and when do you expect to see a return on your initiatives?

KV: We don’t have a budget for this program, at least not a set amount. It has evolved over time with an understanding from our executives thinking this was really important. So, we never set aside a specific dollar amount, but of course our properties will have their own budget amount for upgrades. If it’s a larger project, we are hoping to get it in the 5-year budget plan. Right now we’re doing most of the upgrades in-house because we have a lot of great in-house support.

MFE: What can other property managers and owners do to ‘go green’?

KV: I think the more help you have, the better. But as far as sustainably, I would say even if you don’t have that support, don’t let that limit you. There are so many resources out there online including case studies and different tools to help. One of first areas to look at is lighting because it’s a huge opportunity for savings. Also, look at energy saving appliances in areas where we consume the most. Focus on a healthy indoor environment by changing to low VOC products and green cleaning
products, etc. A lot of this is changing habits and that doesn’t happen overnight. But don’t try to do it all at once. Pick an area that is most important to you, like energy efficiency. Focus on that first and then move on to more.