Doing the right thing has always been a core value for American Campus Communities. This value is deeply embedded into our culture at every level, from our field-level employees to our board of directors. It guides how we conduct our business, treat our fellow team members and serve our residents and our community. It also extends to our stewardship of the environment on behalf of this generation of students and the next.
We are pleased to share our 2019 Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) Update, which outlines how we put our values into action over the last year. While this update covers our 2019 work, we are publishing it in 2020 – a year that has been quickly and dramatically reshaped by the COVID-19 pandemic. With our core values as our guide, we responded immediately with a pledge to provide every resident with a home, regardless of their ability to pay rent on time. To date, through our Resident Hardship Program and actions we have taken in the spirit of our long-term university partnerships, we have provided nearly $20 million in rental relief to our residents and have offered thousands of additional deferments of rent payments to residents and parents who have experienced a diminishment in income due to COVID-19. We have also protected the health of our employees through work-from-home, social distancing, sanitization and emergency leave measures. And we implemented CDC guidelines and social distancing at all of our communities for the health and benefit of our residents.
While this crisis is unprecedented, our commitment to our ESG principles is unwavering. To ensure our company remains resilient in any situation, in 2019 we conducted a materiality assessment to identify our most relevant ESG issues. We also formalized our ESG programs under an ESG committee, led by our president and fully supported by our board.
This puts structure around our longtime focus on environmental initiatives, investing in our people and giving back to the communities in which we live and work. Our industry-leading 37 LEED-certified buildings, Great Place to Work certification and $6 million raised for charitable giving are just a few outcomes of our commitment to corporate responsibility.
As issues such as climate change and housing affordability intensify, we know that residents, employees, partners and shareholders want to know more about how we’re using our business as a force for good. In fact, 83% of Millennials and 80% of Generation Z think business success should be measured in terms of more than financial performance, according to the 2018 Deloitte Millennial Survey.
This update provides stakeholders with transparency into our 2019 achievements including:
ESG is a natural extension of our values and is not only the right thing to do for our society and the planet, but it makes good business sense as well. We believe the proper focus on materials and specifications helps us reduce operational costs, which translates into affordability for our residents and long-term value for our company, our investors and other stakeholders.
We are proud to share our 2019 progress, as well as our plans for 2020 and our vision moving forward. We invite you to follow our work at americancampus.com/ESG. We know that transparency, connection and sustainability are imperative to creating communities where students love living.
Chief Executive Officer