We see the integration of sustainable features into our communities as a critical component of delivering the best experiences for students. We know that a healthy, comfortable and socially responsible living environment is important to our residents, and to the future of our planet.
It’s not only the right thing to do; it also makes good business sense – generating long-term value through operational efficiencies that benefit our company, our stakeholders and our communities.
We consider environmental opportunities and challenges at every stage of a community’s lifecycle, from design to construction to everyday use. We use the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) standards from the U.S. Green Building Council as our baseline requirements, and then also customize to local regulations and geographic conditions. Some factors we evaluate during design and development include:
Prioritize walkability/distance to campus and select sites to minimize heat loads and facilitate natural ventilation.
Employ energy models that lower environmental effects while increasing operational efficiencies and long-term savings.
Apply innovative design principles to conserve water and energy, protect indoor air quality and create healthy living spaces.
Utilize regional and recycled products and responsible waste management processes to conserve valuable resources and to fuel the local economy.
Proximity to campus is one of our investment criteria when we develop and acquire communities. Reducing students’ dependence on single-occupancy vehicles also reduces emissions and the impact cars can have on property sites.
We are proud that 93% of ACC-owned properties are located within a half mile from campus, so students can easily walk or bike to class.
* as of 3/31/20. Includes owned communities, those currently under construction, and those expected to commence construction during the current calendar year.
ACC has built 37 LEED-certified projects across the country – more than any other student housing provider. In 2019, we delivered two more communities, Plaza Verde at University of California, Irvine, and LightView at Northeastern University, targeted for LEED Platinum certification.
We provide our university partners with innovative, practical methods for improving the sustainability of each proposed project. We have LEED-accredited professionals on our team. Our approach integrates design and technical considerations to meet budget requirements while maintaining environmental integrity.
We choose materials and fixtures that are highly resource-efficient, cost-effective and conducive to the health of our residents and the local environment. Below is a list of several baseline features we aim to include in each community, balanced against student affordability. We conduct thorough reviews of our operating and maintenance procedures for major mechanical systems, and hired an in-house engineer to oversee building and preventive maintenance programs and provide training to our on-site facilities staff.
Made the inaugural list of 20 companies with Texas operations that have made a demonstrative commitment to conservation.
Our development and operations standards are designed to minimize our usage of natural resources. There’s a saying, “you can’t manage what you don’t measure,” and we’re committed to measuring and transparently reporting our resource usage so we can reduce it even further.
In 2020, we are analyzing ACC’s 2019 energy use, water use and waste diversion data. We are also planning the implementation of an energy management system across our portfolio of owned real estate. We anticipate this program, by streamlining and automating many aspects of our resource management, will enable us to reduce our overall usage of electricity, gas and water.
We expect to use this data to complete a greenhouse gas inventory, and to establish our usage baselines for external reporting and goal setting.
We are retrofitting many of our acquired and older communities with the sustainability best practices we’ve established in newer developments.
Since 2015, we have completed 125 LED lighting retrofit projects. These projects have saved an estimated 32 million kilowatt hours of electricity. That’s enough to power 3,831 homes for one year!
In 2019, we recycled over 1,000 tons of waste at ACC communities. That’s enough to fill an Olympic-sized swimming pool plus 20 concrete mixer trucks!
Plaza Verde is UCI’s first large-scale, 100% electric, green living community. Following the University of California system’s carbon neutrality policy, ACC designed Plaza Verde to be UCI’s first Zero-Net Energy operation. That means its on-site, 1.4-megawatt photovoltaic array will generate enough renewable energy to equal the building’s total energy consumption. We also designed the 1,441-bed, five-story tower targeting LEED Platinum certification.
Consumes 72% less energy than a standard building
Uses 50% less water than a standard building
766 bike racks plus EV charging stations
ACC’s 5th development with UCI
Locally sourced, recycled-content and low-impact materials
LightView is the first developer-led, equity-financed student housing project in the city of Boston. ACC developed this 825-bed, 20-story community targeting LEED Platinum certification. It also marks a key milestone for the “Housing A Changing City: Boston 2030” initiative, which aims to improve the quality and quantity of student housing in Boston. Additionally, LightView helps free up housing needed for the local community workforce.
Low-flow showerheads, faucets and toilets
ENERGY STAR® appliances
LED lighting and room occupancy sensors throughout
In late 2018, we retrofitted all of University Village’s common area, exterior and parking fixture lights with LED lights.
From January to December 2019, University Village saw:
Electricity use decrease by 94,861 kWh (28.7%)
Electricity costs decrease by 22.4%
In 2019, we retrofitted the toilets at three of our VCU communities. A study showed that, from December 2019-March 2020, VCU saw:
A 31% decrease in water usage
A 39% reduction in costs
Working with our energy broker partner, we identified an opportunity to procure 100% of our electricity from renewables at two of our VCU communities: 8 ½ Canal Street and Gladding Residential Center. Our two-year contract began January 2020. We estimate this move will deliver 6 million kWh/year in green energy.
Opportunity to produce 100% of our electricity from renewables
Delivering 6 million kWh/year in green energy