by J Retinger
Sustainability, or “going green,” was once thought to be just a fad. But modern renters – notably Gen Z and millennials – would say otherwise. According to ApartmentData.com, about 80% of apartment residents believe that living in green apartment communities is good for their health, and 61% of renters say they would pay more each month for an eco-friendly apartment.
Sure, there is no shortage of tactics that will contribute to establishing a sustainable community for residents to enjoy. Operators can construct buildings that meet LEED-certified standards, install smart home technology that measures energy and water usage or install energy-efficient lighting fixtures, just to name a few. But while part of the green initiative does take hold at the building design and construction stages, as well as by utilizing energy-efficient appliances, other efforts are just as important.
Sustainability efforts can be made in waste management processes and creating cleaner communities by reducing the amount of pet waste left behind at a community. Although our furry friends certainly bring us joy, if their waste isn’t picked up and disposed of properly, they can also pose a major hazard to the environment and disrupt a community’s strides towards becoming eco-friendly.
A large part of sustainability efforts falls into community clean-up protocols, especially when it comes to unscooped pet waste. Dog waste is not only harmful to people and pets, but it is incredibly toxic and destructive for the environment. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency lists dog waste as one of the leading environmental contaminants negatively impacting communities across the country. In order to combat that, maintaining a pristine property is of the utmost importance.
A study published in Ecological Solutions and Evidence found that annually, dogs may unload close to 24 pounds of nitrogen and 11 pounds of phosphorus into the soil nearly every 2.5 acres, both of which are extremely potent fertilizers to the environment. What that ultimately means is that unscooped pet waste may be pushing the environment well past what scientists refer to as the “critical load,” essentially oversaturating soil with an extreme excess of nitrogen that affects biodiversity.
To echo the sentiments of modern renters and their desire to live in greener communities, operators have found that in addition to making the necessary steps in choosing eco-friendly building materials and smart home features throughout a community, eliminating unscooped pet waste is just as crucial.
The addition of more pet waste depository stations and imposing fines for not picking up after a pet are sure to have some positive results in terms of slowing down the issue, but to make a larger difference and reduce unscooped pet waste – in many cases by 95 percent – operators have had to step up their efforts. Beyond the traditional tools used, DNA testing of pet waste is gaining popularity because it works and has proven to be extremely effective in diminishing the harmful effects pet waste poses to the environment while holding pet owners accountable.
By building sustainable communities and implementing the proper programs required to ensure they remain free of pet waste and jive with eco-friendly practices that encourage a greener living experience, operators are enhancing the resident experience considerably. These sustainability efforts not only broaden potential resident pools and attract more long term residents, they will undeniably lead to a brighter future for the environment and a greater NOI.