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Sustainability: From New-Age Concept to Practical Business Practice

By NHT Sustainability Associate Kathleen Berube

Building emissions are responsible for over 20 percent of our nation’s greenhouse gases. Our concern about the environment is core to NHT-Enterprise’s sustainability operations. Our reductions in energy consumption have not only prevented 3,800 tons of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere, but these retrofits also have decreased operational costs, allowing us to allocate funds to resident services such as after school programs and financial literacy classes.

Sustainability is a triple bottom line: we are helping clean up the planet, provide the property financial and environmental resilience, and provide more services for residents.


Total Savings
NHT-Enterprise's annual portfolio-wide savings resulting from sustainability upgrades



NHT-Enterprise has incorporated this way of thinking about sustainability across its portfolio of 17 asset-managed properties. Whether performing a full rehabilitation or a one-off retrofit, NHT-Enterprise has effectively combatted high utility costs while simultaneously increasing the quality of housing and the environment. Our sustainability efforts have resulted in an annual portfolio-wide utility savings of $150,000, which over 10 years equates to $1.5 million. Below are descriptions of some of our most recent sustainability efforts and their results. You can download the full report here.




Channel Square Savings
Savings from Channel Square rehabilitation

Channel Square Rehabilitation:

A suite of energy and water conservation measures were incorporated into the recent rehabilitation of NHT-Enterprise’s Channel Square property, located in Southwest Washington D.C. The measures included new high-efficiency heating and cooling systems, LED lighting, solar power, ENERGYSTAR appliances, low-flow water fixtures, building automation systems, and air sealing. Thus, the building’s energy use intensity, [EUI] or the amount of energy used per square foot per year, has declined by 30 percent and water consumption reduced by 43 percent. over a two-year period. These decreases translate to an annual utility savings of $125,000.








St. Dennis Savings
Savings from St. Dennis water conservation upgrades

St. Dennis Water Conservation:

Even small scale retrofits can generate meaningful savings. In September 2016, NHT-Enterprise’s St. Dennis, located in Northwest Washington D.C., completed a water conservation retrofit. This retrofit included low-flow toilets, showerheads, and aerators. NHT-Enterprise anticipates an annual savings of $9,500 or 38 percent of the property’s annual water costs. This projection indicates that the project will pay for itself in just over one year.









Savings from Briarcliff energy upgrades

Briarcliff LED Lighting Retrofit:

In May 2016, NHT-Enterprise completed an LED lighting retrofit on Briarcliff Townhomes. All the property’s exterior lighting was swapped out for LED equivalents. This switch contributed to a 28 percent reduction in EUI and a 60 percent reduction in owner-paid electricity costs. The annual savings are anticipated to result in a payback of just over five years.








Sustainability is often thought of in the real estate world as a frill, something nice to spend money on if there are extra funds. Fluff. But investing in sustainability measures can significantly improve the financial performance of affordable housing properties by creating very real and meaningful savings on owner-paid utilities. Finding opportunities to retrofit lighting, install low-flow water fixtures, or replace HVAC units with high-efficiency models not only improves the property from a capital needs perspective, but also generates savings. These savings allow properties to spend money where is it truly needed, like on deferred maintenance or resident services, rather than on utilities.

For more information on NHT-Enterprise’s sustainability efforts, please contact NHT Sustainability Associate Kathleen Berube.