How Bozzuto Promotes Sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility
What is sustainability? For Bozzuto, it goes beyond recycling or using a reusable shopping bag. Sustainability is about meeting today’s needs without compromising tomorrow’s, focusing efforts across the board to not only endure, but thrive—socially, environmentally and economically. At Bozzuto, it is building and maintaining high-performing communities that minimize their environmental impact through integrated development strategies and thoughtful, purposeful operations.
Bozzuto Management Company (BMC) Vice President, Sustainability Pete Zadoretzky is passionate about this goal. “We are at a turning point where those who are not actively pursuing meaningful development and operations strategies around energy and water efficiency, resiliency, resident health and wellness, et cetera, are at risk of obsolescence.” He believes that resilient measures are expected by not only residents, but also clients, banks, insurance agencies and jurisdictions in which the company operates. “Whether or not you believe in climate change, which I vehemently do, the business case for responding to and planning for an ever-changing planet is crystallizing every day. A cartoon I keep on my desk states it well: ‘What if global warming is a hoax, and we create a better planet all for nothing?’ It’s easy to become a defeatist in the face of fatalistic articles and reports coming out on the subject on an almost daily basis. Yes, we should be alarmed by climate change and the fact we waited so long to do much about it. But panic doesn’t help–only action does. As environmentalist Paul Hawken likes to say, ‘It’s not game over, it’s game on!’”
Doing things “the right way”
Bozzuto’s founders knew that true, enduring success comes to those who “do things the right way,” including championing sustainable practices. Bozzuto leadership is committed to reducing dependence on non-renewable energy sources. They’ve incorporated sustainability as one of the core components of the company’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) policies, which serve as guidelines for Bozzuto’s economic, social and environmental development.
The latest demonstration of this commitment is Bozzuto’s newly announced award, 2019 ENERGY STAR® Partner of the Year for Sustained Excellence, an honor given to companies who have won Partner of the Year certification three or more times. Mike Zatz, Manager, ENERGY STAR Commercial Buildings, praised the company’s efforts. “As the first multifamily management company to earn ENERGY STAR Partner of the Year for its energy management efforts, Bozzuto has led the way and set a very high bar for the rest of the multifamily industry. Their integration of energy management into all aspects of the business, rather than treating it as a ‘special project’ or ‘add-on’ activity, ensures that the company and its residents will all benefit from reduced costs and a healthier environment for many years to come,” he said.
Bozzuto also joined RE100, a global initiative uniting influential companies under the commitment to dependence on 100% renewable electricity. Bozzuto pursues this primarily through the use of renewable energy credits (RECs). The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) mandates that “RECs are issued when one megawatt-hour (MWh) of electricity is generated and delivered to the electricity grid from a renewable energy resource.” Zadoretzky explained, “Essentially, RECs are a financial instrument whereby we offset our energy consumption at various properties and Bozzuto HQ by investments in renewable energy.” Bozzuto actively pursues opportunities for on-site solar power, especially in the Washington, D.C., Boston and Philadelphia markets, while maintaining a handful of properties that utilize on-site photovoltaic (PV) solar cells. A2, a mixed-use community in Baltimore, Maryland, is the most recent solar installation.
A team effort
Since buildings consume around 40% of the world’s energy and contribute up to 30% of its annual greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, there is a prime opportunity for Bozzuto to make a positive, long-lasting impact as homebuilders. It’s up to us to collectively do all we can to keep our impact to a minimum—to “leave the earth more beautiful than it was the day you were born,” in the words of Founder and Chairman Tom Bozzuto. BMC Regional Director of Maintenance & Engineering Yasmin Hayat ties in this mantra with a lesson learned from a well-known environmentalist. “When I was in school, I read My Life with the Chimpanzees by Jane Goodall, and there was a passage that still sticks with me 20 years later. Goodall addresses the faulty reasoning behind trivializing things that are harmless on the surface, but are at their heart problematic, calling it ‘just me-ism.’ One plastic cup or straw isn’t a big deal if it’s ‘just me’ using it, but multiplied by the billions of people on this earth doing the same thing, it is a big deal.” Hayat sees sustainability as a true team effort to which each employee should commit.
An evolving sanctuary
To understand how sustainability affects all aspects of the business, the sustainability team suggests thinking of “sustainability/green/eco-friendly” as “high-performance” when possible. “When you look through that lens, you’ll see that these concepts don’t live in a box, but can be applied to every department, role and business decision throughout the company,” Zadoretzky explained. For example, Bozzuto advocates for responsible business activities that minimize resource waste, such as BMC’s push to be paperless. Bozzuto is also the first third-party multifamily management company to become a FitwelSM Champion, a certification optimizing building health.
When developing communities, sustainability efforts begin during the design and building phases, with decisions around materials, mechanical and plumbing systems, building envelope and metering to track energy and water usage. Because building on pre-developed land is arguably one of the “greenest” starting points for new construction projects, Bozzuto Development Company (BDC) has a stellar track record of transit-oriented, urban-infill and brownfield developments. High-performing buildings have exceptional energy and water efficiency and protect residents from outside noise, odors and even extreme weather events.
From an engineering perspective, Hayat applauds sustainable building practices. “People often lament that we don’t ‘build the way we used to,’ but to me, that’s like complaining dentists don’t put mercury in our teeth anymore. I look forward to seeing technology in the industry advance, and I am confident it will continue to be more efficient, more durable and more sustainable,” she reflected.
The healthy choice
As a former landscape architect, Zadoretzky believes sustainable buildings result in happier, healthier residents. His team sees firsthand how high-performing communities correlate directly to sanctuary. While managing a community, BMC is responsible for policies affecting water and energy efficiency, recycling, maintenance and resident engagement and education. Green cleaning methods and integrated pest management practices minimize harmful airborne contaminants, improving indoor air quality. Proactive water management enables property teams to catch leaks before they escalate. On-site electric vehicle (EV) charging, bike storage and repair facilities and even areas for collecting used textiles, electronics waste, batteries and light bulbs satisfy both the desire for top-notch amenity packages and sustainability.
High-performing buildings often result in lower utility bills. “There’s the benefit of a little extra ‘green’ in our residents’ wallets. They have a peace of mind knowing the Bozzuto community they call home was built to minimize their environmental footprint,” said Zadoretzky. Hayat agreed, also noting, “Our residents choose to live in the apartment homes we manage, and it’s on us to be responsible stewards of their resources.”
Bozzuto’s growing focus on innovation and smart buildings continues to enhance residents’ lives, blending sustainability with technology and design in ways once never imagined in the industry. BMC routinely wins awards for their biophilic design, which brings outdoor elements inside, connecting residents with nature and creating a calming aesthetic. Green roofs and community gardens look beautiful as they capture and treat groundwater before it reaches the sewer system. “Studies show a direct correlation to productivity, well-being and stress reduction,” Zadoretzky pointed out. “When our residents, especially those in busy urban hubs such as NYC, D.C., Boston or Chicago, walk into a lobby featuring a green wall, or see a green roof, courtyard or nearby park from their couch, they connect with nature and satisfy an innate human desire.”
The specs: metrics that matter
Bozzuto measures its performance through certifications and participation in industry initiatives. Green building certifications matter; we see increasingly favorable interest rates, improved financial performance, mortgage default risk abatement and even improved insurance rates and deductibles (if not insurability as a whole).
“One of my favorite sustainability metrics is a community’s ENERGY STAR score,” said Zadoretzky about a key metric his team uses. This platform rates buildings on an energy efficiency scale of 0-100 with 50 as the median. Scoring above this median means a building is performing better than 50 percent of its peers.
Many Bozzuto communities are also LEED® certified, the most widely-used green building rating system which also focuses on energy efficiency and high-performance. For Bozzuto, these metrics look at whole building energy data, not just owner-controlled common areas. They focus on how individual apartment homes are set up, encouraging on-site teams to continue sustainable efforts long after construction concludes. “LEED and other designations awarded during construction are highly valuable, but it’s also plausible that a certified community could have subpar operational practices. Metrics focusing on ongoing performance cannot be overlooked,” Zadoretzky asserted.
One in five communities in the BMC portfolio are LEED-certified, denoting a robust, widely-recognized and thirdparty-verified commitment to responsible development. In 2018, 31 BMC-managed communities achieved ENERGY STAR certification, a 48% increase from the previous year. Bozzuto also participates in the Better Buildings Challenge hosted by the Department of Energy (DOE) as well as the W2 initiatives held by Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA)—both of which focus on reducing non-renewable energy usage. Over 50% of the BMC client portfolio now participates in the Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark (GRESB). This platform assesses the Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) performance of real asset investments, providing standardized and validated data to capital markets. This platform is increasingly relevant to the commercial real estate marketplace, as global assets reporting to GRESB had over $3.6 trillion in value at the end of 2018.
More and more, clients and partners are noticing Bozzuto’s green efforts. “Bozzuto is one of LaSalle’s most proactive property managers regarding sustainability, across all our property types. From the attention to energy, water and waste benchmarking that greatly contributes to our annual ESG reporting, to community engagement programs like Bozzuto’s Earth Month Campaign, LaSalle greatly appreciates Bozzuto’s sustainability leadership,” commented Eric Duchon, Director, Global Head of Sustainability at LaSalle Investment Management.
In Washington, D.C., Yale West resident Matt Praske is an Energy & Sustainability Manager at WashREIT. He commented that, “The Bozzuto team has been a great ally in supporting WashREIT’s sustainability goals. We rely on Bozzuto to help identify and implement energy and sustainability initiatives for our portfolio, which deliver great results. These include robust energy tracking, ENERGY STAR certifications, lighting retrofits, composting and waste management programs. We’re thrilled with how Bozzuto helps us make our portfolio more green.”
Sustainability is never fully “achieved” in the same way you complete a puzzle. There are always new ways to build more responsibly. We can always reevaluate business practices for increased efficiency. “In many ways the journey has just begun, but we’re excited about where we’re headed,” Zadoretzky reflected.Learn more about Bozzuto Sustainability