07/07/2022 | by
University Pointe, Portland, OR. Photo courtesy of American Campus Communities, Inc.

This case study was published in the 2022 REIT Industry ESG Report, which details the REIT and publicly traded real estate industry's environmental, social, and governance (ESG) performance and features 32 case studies showcasing REIT leadership and ESG innovation from a variety of sectors. The report serves as a practical tool for shareholders and stakeholders to assess the scale and impact of the REIT industry's ESG commitments and initiatives. Applicable footnotes and/or citations for this case study are available in the full report.

Applying Data to Derive Innovative Water Conservation Solutions

With a strategic focus on water conservation, American Campus Communities Inc. is using data from analytic studies to identify opportunities to implement innovative and effective measures, resulting in significant water savings across its portfolio.

ACC owns and operates residential housing for college students across the nation. Given student housing’s unique building types, tenant population, and ACC’s recognition that access to clean water is a fundamental right, the organization identified water use as a critical environmental impact opportunity.

“After seeing the immediate savings on our water bill, the capital cost feels miniscule, especially when we think about the millions of gallons of water we are saving every year.”
-Liana Provost, General Manager at University Pointe College Station, serving students attending Portland State University

In order to understand the most effective methods and technologies to reduce water consumption, the company first conducted comprehensive studies, which revealed that toilets were a major source of water consumption for ACC’s buildings due to the higher ratios of bathrooms to bedrooms, typical in student housing.

Retrofitting Toilets
Photo courtesy of American Campus Communities, Inc.

These findings prompted the company to initiate plumbing retrofits at its properties— replacing the internal components of the toilets to lower flush volume, monitor water usage and automatically shut off any detected leaks.

Since 2019, ACC has invested more than $2.5 million across 31 assets on plumbing retrofits, which are on track to annually save more than 177 million gallons of water, enough to fill over 250 Olympic-sized swimming pools. Annual savings from these retrofits exceed $2.1 million.

To further promote environmental conservation efforts, ACC engages tenants through its Residence Life Program, communicating best practices to reduce energy and water usage within its buildings. ACC also conducts regular resident surveys to ensure satisfaction and to maintain open channels of communication with its tenants.

Following the positive feedback and results of the plumbing retrofit initiatives, ACC plans to further its environmental stewardship and expand the plumbing upgrade project across its entire portfolio.

American Campus Communities Inc. is the largest owner, manager, and developer of high-quality student housing communities in the U.S. The company is a fully integrated, self-managed and self-administered REIT with expertise in the design, finance, development, construction management, and operational management of student housing properties.

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