There are a number of reasons to build green apartments including it may be mandatory, it can save money and it strengthens our National Security. My favorite green play is Prometheus’ 203-unit property, called Madera, in downtown Mountain View, California, where the air is crisp, the residents are Google, and the rents are strong. Madera was the subject of my case study review at the Energy Summit.
In order to allow Prometheus to develop our site, the environmentally-conscious city of Mountain View encouraged the community to have a Green Point rating. Similar to LEED, Green Point ratings come from the Build It Green organization, a group established in 2005 in the Bay Area.
Build it Green’s criteria for multifamily properties to achieve its coveted rating includes standards relating to: 1. Indoor air quality; 2. Energy efficiency; 3. Water efficiency; 4. Resource conservation; and 5. Community—reduce urban sprawl while protecting some of the remaining open space. To fulfill the Community requirement the development must be located where residents can work and live in close proximity to each other (so that that the residents spend less time in their cars and more time with their families.) What elevates the family elevates the community.
Using Green Point rating program was not a bad thing for Prometheus, as one of the pillars our brand is sustainability. Prometheus wanted to build a green community while delivering features that mattered most to our residents.
Prometheus strived to add green features and amenities at Madera that were meaningful to the Mountain View market. Additionally we believed we could add features with a promising ROI. Lastly, we felt that adding sustainable features is American and the right thing to do.
The community garnered a stunning 127 points awarded it by the Build It Green program; 50 points is the minimum required to be rated. It’s not easy to achieve this level of greenness, and it’s on par to a silver level LEED award.
If the first rule of real estate is location, location, location, this community hit it perfectly. Madera has a walkability score of 72 out of 100, and adjacent to public transportation and Bike Share (a program offered through the site’s public transit partner, VTA). It is less than 10 miles from the Google Campus and less than a 15-minute walk to the Mountain View downtown, where there is notable entertainment and nightlife.
Living at Madera, our residents are pleased by the green features and amenities of our community. They appreciate the lifestyle that Madera gives them. Our large bike room holds up to 203 bikes and is well used by our residents. Additionally, every parking space at the site is pre-wired for a level 1 electric vehicle (EV) charging station meaning that every household could have an all-electric vehicle.
If there was any concern that all 203 households might trade in their bicycles for all-electric vehicles and send the property’s electric bill over the moon, we can offset some of it with our 82,000 KW photovoltaic solar system, and regenerative elevators (yes, Madera’s elevators actually generate power that can use used for the communities’ other systems).
California is in a significant drought and most water districts are requiring significant reductions in consumption. Madera is ahead of the water restrictions with smart controllers that provide just the right relief to the community’s drought- resistant, all-native plants and trees. An added bonus for residents is the herb gardens that make dinner a breeze for residents.
For the wide-open, sun-soaked common areas, lush, artificial lawn carpets the eternal greenbelt and softens the built-in seating: water consumption is reduced and maintenance is relieved. Residents are happy, once again, and without complaint about brown grass in July in Silicon Valley. It’s a win-win.
While Madera may be the hottest thing going in Mountain View, it is 100% Smoke Free. Our research showed that our residents wanted non-smoking apartments and communities. Smoke free homes benefit residents by improving air quality. Smoking is prohibited both inside the apartments and common areas, and within 25-ft. of buildings.
Other green amenities at Madera include its solar-heated, salt-water pool and green roof lounge. The property includes an active building system that automates messaging to residents’ phones and email, such as package deliveries alerts and more. High utility bills are kept at bay with dual-pane windows, LED lighting, Energy Star appliances and other energy efficient features. Water usage at the property is about 41 percent of other communities and electricity is approximately 25 percent less.
What does the market think? I’m proud to report that Madera was 25 percent leased before there was a model to show and 100 percent six months after we officially opened our doors. Currently, at Madera, rents and renewals are strong.
Building green is fun for everyone.