Eco-friendly development in new construction is on the rise, but existing buildings can just as easily earn LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification, one of the most prestigious eco-friendly classifications.

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Takeaways:

  • A 30-year-old apartment complex in Chicago turned two of four towers into an LEED Silver-certified living complex.
  • Site maintenance and operations, water and energy conservation, waste mitigation and the use of local products were all included.
  • Small changes can help property managers and landlords find tenants and keep property values competitive.

Eco-friendly development in new construction is on the rise, but existing buildings can just as easily earn LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification, one of the most prestigious eco-friendly classifications.

A 2015 report from commercial real estate company CBRE found that LEED adoption for new construction is on the rise. And a recent redevelopment of a 30-year-old apartment complex in Chicago’s West Loop turned two of four towers into an LEED Silver-certified living complex.

The Waterton Residential redevelopment of the Presidential Towers earned the certification by the U.S. Green Building Council, an accomplishment that Waterton’s David Schwartz says is more prominent than a new building’s certification.

presidential-towers-photo-tour

Towers 3 and 4 gained the certification by improving the sustainability of their site maintenance and operations, water and energy conservation, waste mitigation and the use of local products.

The development was able to offer its residents on-site rental cars and a bike-sharing service, a green taxi pickup station, as well as easy access to public transportation. The development’s common areas have also improved, which includes a gym, outdoor and indoor pool, and sundeck.

presidential-towers-sundeck

Although a massive redevelopment isn’t feasible for many property managers and landlords, a few changes can improve the quality of living for new and prospective tenants.

The Presidential Towers earned credits for improving its indoor air quality by adding a no-smoking clause to all new leases. This simple but impactful addition to a lease shows that landlords protect and promote the health of residents.

Taking a card from the Stack House Apartments in South Lake Union in Seattle, a landlord or property manager could add a green area or garden space for residents to share. The “pea-patch gardens” are a key selling point for the residences.

The gardens are tended by the Seattle Urban Farm Company and feature foot-deep, raised-bed gardens with garlic, tomatoes, potatoes, herbs, greens and other vegetables, which residents are welcome to pick for themselves.

Having an eco-friendly property is about more than green lighting, windows and appliances. Small changes can help property managers and landlords find tenants and keep property values competitive.

Email Kimberly Manning.

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