Developments build on green trend

by Amy Devito

Antonio Zaragoza / Photo Editor
Antonio Zaragoza / Photo Editor

Sustainable construction is a contemporary movement actively engaging this generation with an eco-friendly lifestyle. Housing developments are coalescing with environmentally conscious companies to cultivate new ways people can decrease their ecological footprints and abstain from wasteful habits. Corporations such as the U.S. Green Building Council are reaching out to San Diego State and motivating Earth-loving students to take residence in Sterling Collwood and the brand new Granada on Hardy apartments.

The complexes have attained both Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification, a program initiated by members of the USGBC to ensure housing facilities complied with energy-efficient standards.

“USGBC is a product of a deep-seeded idea to build green so that people can live in a healthy development along with the environment,” USGBC communications associate Jennifer Easton said.

LEED is an internationally recognized green building certification system, providing third-party verification that a building or community was sustainably designed and built. Its main goal is to improve performance across all the metrics that matter most: energy conservation, water efficiency, the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions, improved indoor environmental quality, stewardship of resources and an increased awareness of environmental impact.

“LEED is very instrumental in helping to get the word out,” Easton said. “It’s just one piece of the greater goal for our building portfolio. We’ve hit a lot of milestones with 10,000 LEED certified homes to date. In the future we hope to touch every aspect of the industry.”

LEED coincides directly with both Sterling Collwood and The Granada on Hardy in an effort to inspire construction methods that minimize detrimental effects on the surrounding environment.

“We think residents see a value in being LEED certified,” Michelle Swenson, property manager at Peak Campus Management for The Granada on Hardy, said. “We think there is a payback down the road by implementing certain LEED requirements. We feel all LEED and design elements will create a superior living experience for our residents. They will recognize the quality and attention to detail that was put into this project and will take pride in that and enjoy the community even more.”

The Granada on Hardy apartments have been designated a LEED-certified building for several reasons: a 30 percent increase in outdoor air ventilation, low-emitting adhesives and sealants, 68 percent water-efficient landscaping, a highly efficient gas hot water system, a storm water filtration system on site and the use of regional materials. Utility provisions ensure each unit has a water sub meter, making residents more accountable for their water consumption. Low-flow toilets, lavatories, showers and kitchen sinks have contributed to a 33 percent reduction in water usage, with a “green cap” plan outlining electoral usage.

Sterling Collwood is also joining the green revolution, setting a standard of awareness for the impact tenants have on the environment. Recognized as the first privately funded student housing project in the U.S. to seek LEED gold certification, Sterling Collwood incorporates joint public transportation, recycling programs and solar panels into the residents’ living style. Energy-efficient windows, increased insulation, reduced light pollution and programmable thermostats also contribute to the company’s notable environmental efforts.

However, as all students do not have the opportunity to live in these environmentally progressive complexes, there are still steps that can be taken to create a greener inhabitance. Recycling, using compact fluorescent lightbulbs with low mercury content, composting, air-drying clothes, unplugging electronics and storing a Brita in the refrigerator are all simple life changes that can go a long way. Everyday people have a dramatic influence on the integrity of the environment and hold great responsibility in the depletion of the Earth’s natural resources. The habits fueling this cycle must first be altered in the home. All it takes is a few adjustments to yield unprecedented results and make a substantial difference.