There is no questioning the fact that the multifamily housing industry has been moving toward more environmentally friendly construction techniques this past year. Both political and market factors have driven the apartment rental industry to embrace sustainability and green living.
Apartments, in general, are fundamentally considered a rather green housing option; by sharing space and resources, apartments require much less energy and pollute much less than sprawling suburbs comprised of single family homes.
In a previous blog post on green apartments, we’ve cited how living density is a basic concept of sustainability and essential for maintaining ecological balance.
In the past few months, green apartment living has spread to the affordable housing arena. In last week’s apartment rental news roundup we pointed out how actor Ed Norton, the Hulk himself, had gone totally green and testified as a trustee of Enterprise Community Partners to the Senate Banking Committee. He presented information on the success of the Enterprise Green Communities initiative in lowering costs by focusing on energy and water conservation.
Responding to the testimony, Representative Ed Perlmutter (D-CO) introduced H.R. 6078, the Green Resources for Energy Efficient Neighborhoods (GREEN) Act of 2008. The act would allocate funds and increase incentives for the private sector to invest in green affordable housing.
Some of the key mechanisms employed by the bill include:
- requiring Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to finance energy efficient and location efficient mortgages
- providing grants to local communities for energy efficient single and multifamily housing
- requires insurance companies to provide coverage for homes not connected to the power grid
One would expect that if it were indeed cheaper to make energy saving retrofits and improve conservation methods, the market would adjust accordingly. However, initial costs can be discouraging. This legislation, however, seems to be able to dovetail nicely with the environmental incentives buried in the Economic Stimulus Act of 2008, which we reported on a few months ago.
What do people out there think of green standards on apartments for rent? We’ll be keeping a close eye on new developments, as this burgeoning topic continues to gain momentum in the multifamily industry.