Monday, June 10 2013

Why Go Green? An Interview with Skid Row Housing Trust Executive Director Mike Alvidrez


How did the Trust’s commitment to sustainability come about?
The Trust strives for the highest quality homes for our resident population. Especially when dealing with a formerly homeless community, many of which have special needs, it’s important to have healthy interiors and non-toxic environments for them to live in. By creating high quality interiors, both aesthetically and physically, we ensure our residents do not have sick building syndrome or have the building trigger additional health problems. On an operations side, it’s important to build efficient buildings that will stand the test of time. Sustainable building practices lower the utility costs of the building, easing the burden on operations in the long term.

How many LEED certified buildings have you done, and what level of certification?
The New Genesis Apartments was our first LEED Platinum certified project.  We currently have two projects under construction that are targeting a minimum of LEED Gold (Star Apartments and New Pershing Apartments).

What is that commitment today, and has it evolved?
The commitment to sustainable building practices is not just limited to new construction projects. We have started to revisit the older buildings in the portfolio and have implemented whole building energy retrofits (systems replacements) and single measure improvements (such as low flow fixtures) to lower energy usage and improve interiors. The commitment to sustainability is only evolving and increasing. We plan to retrofit some older buildings with solar panels to offset energy usage as well.

Have your sustainability efforts resulted in quantifiable savings?
Yes, we have seen a decrease in costs. We also monitor our energy usage across the portfolio so that we can measure improvements, but also to detect problems as well.

Do your tenants actively participate in your sustainability efforts?
We involve the residents by providing green living workshops, but also ask for input on priorities so that improvements and sustainable measures not only save energy, but improve the quality of living for the resident community.