Student Housing and Sustainability Policies

Universities across the United States are committed to sustainability on and off campus, including for student housing. In fact, many universities have sustainable practices in place for their student housing facilities such as energy efficiencies, use of renewable resources, reduction of energy use, use of recycled and recyclable products, reduction of water use, waste reduction and more. They use the Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) rating system as a guide for new construction projects, renovation projects and on-going maintenance of facilities. They are also committed to educating residents and staff through presentations, work group involvement, focus groups and the development of living learning environments.

For example, property developers in San Diego created a new, modern housing project for nursing students at the state’s university that is energy efficient, environmentally conscious, and cutting edge. The developers focused mainly on energy efficiency and ventilation strategies. They also focused on lighting densities and used high-performance ENERGY STAR appliances and windows. This focus early on helped the project reach a building performance improvement of 25.1% over California’s 2008 Title 24 Energy Code.

At Loyola Marymount University (LMU) in Los Angeles, all showers and sinks have low-flow aerators (1.5 gallons/minute) in student housing, with low-flow toilets in all their apartments and suites (1.6 gallons/flush). In 2014, LMU completed its two-phase landscaping project in the first-year area that reduced water use by 75%.

At Northwestern University, last year more than 60 “Eco-Reps” (individuals who organize activities to raise awareness and mobilize the campus culture around sustainability) educated students about sustainability through events, activities, and campaigns to create a lasting culture of sustainability at the school. This included reps initiating the first off-campus “Green Cup” competition this year in which more than 40 students living in apartments and houses across Evanston earned points by attending events and posting pictures of sustainable habits, such as switching light bulbs to CFLs or LEDs, biking to class, and utilizing reusable materials.

Off-campus Eco-Reps also created the “Green Apartment Checklist”, a list of questions to ask landlords to determine the green features of an apartment or house.The checklist includes a number of questions by category related to water preservation, energy conservation, waste reduction, and travel sustainability.

Some of the sample questions on the checklist for landlords of student housing included:

  • Does the shower have a low-flow showerhead? If not, can one be installed?
  • Is the toilet a low flow toilet?
  • Are any of the faucets or pipes leaking? If so, how fast is the repair time?
  • Do the windows, doors, and walls provide good insulation? Are there any cracks?
  • Do the windows have curtains or shades to provide extra insulation during the winter? If not, can they be installed?
  • Is there good natural lighting in the unit?
  • Do the lights have CFL or LED light bulbs? If not, can they be installed?
  • Can the heat be controlled in individual units?
  • Is there a programmable thermostat in the unit Do the washing machines offer cold-water washing?
  • Are the kitchen appliances efficient? Are they Energy Star rated?
  • Does the building offer recycling?
  • Can composting be done on the premises?
  • Is there a bike room or rack?

Sustainability is important for all types of habitational risks, including student housing. It’s not only essential in the health of our environment but it also provides property owners with long-term savings. Distinguished is committed to helping insureds with their green initiatives through AGPOM, the Association of Green Property Owners and Managers (AGPOM), a 501(c)(6) non-profit organization that helps property owners and managers realize the value of environmental-friendly pursuits while offering incentives that stimulate participation such as green building insurance coverage.

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