Green Over Granite?
Young apartment dwellers want sustainability but won’t pay extra for it, developers say.
Multifamily developers say Echo Boomers are focused on carbon footprint, but hesitant to pay more for green apartments.
While granite countertops, flat-screen televisions, and stainless steel appliances will make their way into many market-rate multifamily residential projects, the level of finishes will vary from developer to developer.
“It’s more important to be urban and cool than high-end and grand,” says Manny Gonzalez, AIA, a principal of KTGY Group based in the firm’s Santa Monica, Calif., office. “For example, instead of a sliding shower door, you can do a rounded bar with a curtain and create a W Hotel kind of feel.”
Sustainability looks to be the wild card when it comes to the Echo Boomers’ apartment wish list. “This generation is more focused on the impact of its carbon footprint,” according to Michael D. Binette, AIA, vice president and principal in charge of construction for the Architectural Team in Chelsea, Mass. “They won’t pay more for it, but if they have the choice of two buildings with the same rent, they’ll pick the more sustainable one.”
KTGY principal Rohit Anand, AIA, in the Tysons Corner, Va., office, and Gonzalez agree that Echo Boomers are hesitant to pay substantial rent increases for a green apartment, but sustainability efforts have garnered different levels of success in different markets.
In Phoenix, for example, where spaces for social interaction are a key tenant amenity, Jack Hannum, vice president in Transwestern’s Phoenix Investment Services Group, doesn’t currently see a building’s carbon footprint playing a primary role in attracting tenants.
But Deven Morganstern, a marketing agent for Cyan/PDX in downtown Portland, Ore., says sustainability has been a draw for the LEED Gold–certified Cyan/PDX. Even with rents that exceed downtown Portland’s average, he reports that 65% to 75% of residents are renewing leases compared with the industry average of 35%. In addition to a green roof and various energy-saving measures, the building offers residents access to bikes and is sited near transit.
This is part of a story that was first published in Architect, a sister publication of EcoHome.