It may have once felt natural to assume net-zero residences and luxury living could never take up housekeeping together. Not any longer. Net zero apartments that offer sumptuous creature comforts have not only made the scene, but are seemingly being snapped up by luxe-minded, eco-conscious residents as fast as they go on the market.
To quote one observer interested in the trend, “Renters are walking the talk.”
That renters are responding favorably isn’t a jolt. The 2022 NMHC Renter Preference Report divulged 65 percent of renters report their leasing decisions would be positively influenced by healthy building certifications. In addition, a May 2022 study by the American Council for Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE), reported in Bloomberg, revealed “renters are more likely to choose energy-efficient homes” and less likely to select inefficient homes when the rental listings incorporate energy information labels.
Renters were found to be willing to pay higher rents for energy-efficient units. Maybe that’s because a 2021 Apartment Data report found 80 percent of apartment renters convinced residing in green apartment communities benefits their health.
Verde is green
A compelling example of the luxury net zero phenomenon is the LEED zero-carbon Verde at Esterra Park apartments in Redmond, Wash., which opened one-third preleased to renters seeking an upscale, eco-friendly lifestyle.
“The concept and design of Verde at Esterra Park is capitalizing on the sea change in human behavior and the growing consumer demand for a better planet,” says Mike Hubbard of developer Capstone Partners. “There’s no one step or action people can take, but multifamily offers a great platform to push environmental boundaries because the living environment is where it all comes together. We planned Verde in a way that we hope will catalyze sustainability from conception through occupancy, both for residents who want this lifestyle, and as a signpost for the industry.”
Among notable features at Verde are greater numbers of bicycle stalls than parking stalls, and almost five times the number of building-code-required electric vehicle (EV) charging stations. Living at Verde doesn’t involve giving up convenience, comfort or productivity. Amenities include direct access to adjacent Esterra Park with free Wi-Fi and food options, a multilevel fitness center, outdoor courtyards featuring seating, conference rooms, co-working spaces and 24-7 dry cleaning and laundry service.
One Verde renter says living at the community means reducing her own personal carbon footprint, renting or borrowing from the apartment community’s short-term needs kiosks instead of buying more “stuff,” and recycling more aggressively.
Rental and ownership
Moving from metro Seattle to the Bay Area, we find plans underway for The SoFA One, a high-rise soon to commence construction in the SoFA enclave of San Jose, Calif. The carbon-neutral development will offer renters opportunity to begin with a deposit like a rental, and build “payments” toward a possible eventual purchase of the residence.
Housing company Nabr, along with two local developers, report SoFA One will be fully electric, carbon-neutral and offer large open balconies letting residents try out their gardening skills. A rooftop park and community garden are additional features of the development anticipated to be complete and welcoming renters in mid-2023.
Meantime, in Jersey City, N.J., the new Haus25 is taking net-zero in another direction. Its technology leverages solar power to pull net-zero water from the air. The water is then directed through drinking fountains on the building’s outdoor roof deck, just one amenity among its tens of thousands of square feet of gardens and outdoor settings.
The Veris Residential 56-styory tower, which began leasing in April, features technology that includes energy tracking, hydro panels and bioretention swales at curbs to collect water that is redirected to the task of outdoor soil irrigation.