For Developers of Multifamily Residential:

Win-Win Sustainable Strategies that Benefit Bottom Lines
In a world facing complex challenges, architects devise holistic solutions and implement fact-driven strategies to resolve client requirements, large and small. Our core values and expertise, coupled with our commitment to client goals, lead us to integrated design approaches that address climate change and benefit a client’s bottom line.

Here are six beneficial strategies:

Fewer materials = reduction in carbon and reduced cost

Some of the most expensive materials that add cost to multifamily buildings are concrete, dropped soffits, and lobby finishes that require replacement and maintenance. Instead, embrace the beauty of exposed structure and raw natural materials and go with outdoor lobbies and circulation–strategies that align refined design, tenant experience, emissions reduction, and lower life-cycle costs.

Optimize building structure to reduce first cost and carbon footprint

Even for “podium” buildings with only one level of concrete, measures to reduce cement and concrete overall exceed any other embodied carbon emissions reduction opportunity. Optimize the amount of concrete by working with the design team to reduce the overall structural design–reducing quantity and formwork. Bonus: Reduce a big concrete pour; shorten the construction schedule.

Protect your investment and reduce O&M

With few exceptions, reducing the overall environmental impact of multifamily buildings is about quality assurance. Insulation and air sealing inspection and oversight of acoustic detailing are important to prevent simple mistakes that are common in construction.

Commissioning—which identifies failures and inefficiencies before they become expensive issues—is an investment that typically pays back in one year on average.

Resilience to extreme weather and power failure holds consumer appeal and protects assets

According to studies, climate adaptation and resilience have become a critical consideration for many renters and home-buyers. Including resilience planning in pre-design is a low-lift first step to identifying the appropriate investments that protect humans and assets. For properties subject to power failure risks, on-site battery storage can be additionally deployed with hot water and rooftop PV to reduce house utility costs dramatically.

Provide transportation amenities, minimize parking requirements, reduce construction costs.

Transportation demand planning – incorporating features that make multi-modal transportation options accessible to residents – can be used in some jurisdictions to reduce parking requirements, which translates to lower construction costs and increased revenue. With the surging popularity of electric bikes, scooters, and carshares, designing facilities for multiple modes costs less than traditional parking and is a selling point, especially in urban areas.

Central heat pump water heaters increase resilience and control costs.

Electric hot water is the centerpiece of multifamily electrification, which is attractive to tenants who increasingly look for low environmental impact. With efficiencies up to 500%, heat pump water heaters control the operating cost impact of fuel switching, even when electricity prices are high, and costs can be eliminated altogether when deployed in tandem with solar PV.  Additional storage unlocks greater potential to control costs and maximize the economics of rooftop solar — by shifting use to the middle of the day when the sun is shining, and storing up for when electricity is expensive and carbon-intensive — at a payback of less than five years.

About AIA California
American Institute of Architects California (AIA California) is committed to harnessing the transformative power of architecture and design to address the greatest economic, environmental, and social challenges of our time. We represent more than 11,000 architects and design professionals who join together to design a better world.

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