Texas is home to 7 of the 15 fastest growing large cities and with population growth comes the need for more construction. Employing operating efficiencies, developing sustainable features, and good resource management are all more important than ever. From water and energy conservation focused designs to using reclaimed and sustainably harvested materials, to doing landscape scale restoration projects, construction industry leaders are taking great strides to incorporate conservation as part of their growth.
Austin-based American Campus Communities (ACC) is big on sustainable construction and operations. Founded in 1993, ACC is the largest student housing company in the nation, with 37 LEED® certified properties, more than any other company in the American student housing industry.
“We recognize sustainability is a major area where we can do our part while continuing to make major strides in operating efficiencies,” Bill Bayless, said chief executive officer for American Campus Communities.
According to the U.S. Green Building Council, green buildings consume 25 percent less energy, and their CO2 emissions are 34 percent lower than standard construction. In the long term, green buildings aren’t just healthier for the planet; they’re less expensive, too.
“Not only is focusing on sustainability and conservation the right thing to do, it helps us reduce operational and property development costs, which translates into affordability for our residents and long-term value,” Bayless said.
ACC carefully develops sites to minimize heat loads and encourage natural ventilation, and it places communities as close to campus to cut down on driving. The company’s designs conserve water and energy, as well as help protect indoor air quality. ACC uses regional and recycled products to conserve valuable resources. For example, in a typical development at Arizona State University, the wood used was non-tropical, reclaimed, or sustainably harvested, while all concrete came from within 100 miles of the building.
In partnership with the University of California, Irvine, ACC developed its first net-zero energy building, where the annual energy used is matched by renewable energy generated on-site, achieving carbon neutral status.
The company also retrofits its older communities with best practices established in newer developments. Since 2015, ACC completed 95 LED lighting retrofit projects, reducing annual energy usage by 26 million kilowatt hours, the equivalent of the annual energy output of 1,923 homes.
“We have gone to extensive lengths to ensure sustainability is incorporated into our innovative designs and resident education to consistently provide environments conducive to healthy living, personal growth and academic success,” Bayless said. “The value generated by operational efficiency and sustainable practices benefits our residents, shareholders and our planet.”