RANCHO CUCAMONGA, Calif. – National Community Renaissance, one of the nation’s largest nonprofit community builders, has enlisted a powerful army in California’s war on drought – its residents – and the result could be a shift in the role multifamily housing plays in addressing water’s new reality.
The Rancho Cucamonga-based developer of affordable, workplace and senior housing last year launched an aggressive program to significantly reduce water use at its California properties. Through turf removal, smart irrigation and installation of high-efficiency fixtures, National CORE saved 11 million gallons of water in the first six months.
Now, with the help of residents, the company hopes to see even greater savings. In recent weeks,
National CORE has launched a competition at 10 local properties, using resident education and community events to educate individuals and families on the importance of water conservation.
“We’re conserving from one end to the other, using every opportunity save water – and electricity and gas as well,” said Robert Noeth, Energy and Sustainability Analyst for National CORE. “We can’t do it by ourselves, however. And that’s where the competition and ongoing education come into play.”
California is in the throes of a historic drought, prompting Gov. Jerry Brown last year to issue an executive order mandating a 25 percent water reduction across the state, with some communities facing conservation targets as high as 36 percent. For Southern California, which is expected to grow by 4 million people over the next 25 years, the restrictions have put a spotlight on multifamily housing development. Unlike single-family households, many apartments are not individually metered, which makes it difficult to incentivize and police water conservation.
Since launching its conservation program, National CORE has installed 6,500 low-flush toilets, which Noeth and his team project will save more than 26.5 million gallons of water per year. Today, 85 percent of the company’s units have been retrofitted with high-efficiency toilets, showerheads and flow restrictors.
In addition, National CORE is installing high-efficiency washing machines at its properties, and has completed turf removal at six communities. A quarter of a million square feet of turf has been removed. High-efficiency sprinkler heads have reduced landscape water use by another 30 percent
“CORE has been very dedicated to water management,” said Adrianna Bluhm of Advanced Environmental Landscape, which is working with National CORE to monitor water consumption. “We are very proud to be working with them and saving millions of gallons of water and educating everyone around us on how to make sure we are all being conservative and doing our part to encourage residents to save water.”
Noeth said the competition will go a long way toward doing just that. Awards will be given to residents and communities that save the most, including gift cards, big-screen televisions and Disneyland tickets.
“We’re trying to change the habits of residents to create good conservation,” Noeth said.
Steve PonTell, President and Chief Executive Officer of National CORE, said the companies efforts send a powerful message to developers and planners across the state – that multifamily housing can be, and should be, a net contributor to quality of life.
“Smart land use and smart development are essential to meeting the population demands of a state that already faces a serious housing shortage,” PonTell said “We’re proud of what we’ve been able to do so far, but realize it is only the beginning.”
In addition to working with Advanced Environmental Landscape, National CORE has enlisted the help of Wegowise, an online platform that will allow the company to benchmark and track all of its water, electricity and gas accounts.
“By tracking utility data as a whole, we can identify with properties need the most improvement,” Noeth said. “It’s a major step forward in being able to quantify our successes.”
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About National CORE, Hope through Housing
National Community Renaissance, based in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., is one of the nation’s largest nonprofit developers of affordable housing. National CORE manages nearly 9,000 affordable, senior and market-rate units in California, Arkansas, Texas and Florida. Over the past two decades, its Hope through Housing partner has provided more than 2 million hours in supportive services to enhance quality of life, including preschool, afterschool, senior wellness and upward mobility programs. For more information on both organizations, please visit www.nationalcore.org.
Steve Lambert, The 20/20 Network