2019 NAA Excellence Award Winners
The NAA Excellence Awards, ‘the Excels,’ recognize excellence and leadership in the apartment housing industry.
These national awards celebrate builders, industry professionals and NAA-affiliated state and local apartment associations that make unique contributions to the rental housing industry.
Oak Row | Peabody Properties, Inc. | West Roxbury, Mass.
Sustainability comes in many forms, and recycling buildings is one strategy. Peabody Properties, along with a team of design professionals and an investment partner, showed how to transform a long-vacant, former International House of Pancake’s property into 80 luxury, cutting-edge, one-, two- and three-bedroom apartment homes rather than raze the structure and begin anew. The design intent was to maintain the spirit of a tree-lined neighborhood that combines urban edge with suburban charm and has been one catalyst in making West Roxbury a more appealing place to live. Besides its lively exterior design and light-filled interior, the property appeals for its walkability to shopping, restaurants, coffee houses, entertainment venues and proximity to mass transit. Oak Row is also LEED-certified with energy-efficient appliances and fixtures, LED lighting and electric vehicle charging stations. At the same time, old-fashioned customer service and resident satisfaction are the property’s top priorities. Since it began leasing in fall 2018, more than half the units have been taken, including 10 affordable ones that represent the city’s Inclusionary Development Policy.
Quarry at River North | Gene B. Glick | Indianapolis
A luxury work-stay-live community, two-year-old Quarry River North brings together the latest in amenities, proximity to urban buzz and nature trails and top management service. Offering 195 residences, the building sits on land that was once a stone quarry, hence the name. Its focus is an active lifestyle, whether that means working out in a gym that’s part of an indoor Wellness Center, on a lawn or taking a complimentary bicycle for a spin. Because it’s relatively new, the building integrates high-tech in its Tech Hub with Wi-Fi, smart TVs, computers, plus complimentary beverages at a Starbucks station; a “Nesting Circle” allows residents to bring their own devices and gather. For those who don’t want to entertain at home, a Dining Suite has an adjacent catering kitchen, bar area and wine lockers. And let’s not forget furry loved ones, which here have access to a pet park with grooming station and dog-centric Yappy Hours. Avoiding isolation is key, too, and the staff orchestrates events onsite as well as partners with local businesses. This is living at its best!
The Retreat at Trinity | Greystar | Trinity, Fla.
Small and focused, The Retreat at Trinity in Trinity, Fla., located on the state’s West Coast, has 120 apartment homes and was designed for active adults. The one- and two-bedroom units reflect design trends that appeal to most cohorts: Open-floor plans with granite countertops and stainless steel appliances, including microwaves, walk-in closets, bathrooms with both a shower and tub and laundry equipment. The community includes popular amenities despite its small size – from being pet-friendly to having a well-equipped fitness center, zero-entry heated pool with lap lanes, outdoor kitchen with grills, art studio, movie theater and screened patios—no bugs! The attentive staff programs a long list of appealing events—an average of 25 per month. And right outside the community’s gates are a growing list of restaurants, retailers, grocery stories, golf clubs and beaches, the latter especially appealing when family and friends visit. For those who want more of an escape, bustling Clearwater,
St. Petersburg and Tampa are each 30 minutes away. The recipe has worked, leading to a waitlist and average 82 percent renewal rate, versus industry-wide 52 percent.
Retreat at The Woodlands | Greystar | The Woodlands, Texas
Already designated Houston Apartment Association’s Community of the Year, Retreat at The Woodlands offers a bucolic setting amid towering pines and nature trails and proximity to downtown Houston, 34 miles away. Built in 2012 and managed since 2013 by Greystar, the 240 apartments were designed to be exceptional, as were the amenities such as a resort-style pool with cabanas with TVs and grills and state-of-the-art fitness center. Each residence receives two complimentary concierge services per week such as grocery shopping or package delivery, prescription pickups, errand running and pet services such as dog walks. They can also purchase more. Resident events range from breakfasts to movie nights, bingo, digital scavenger hunts, root-beer-float day, crawfish boils and luaus. The building is LEED Silver- and National Green Building Standards-certified, and improvements such as a recycling center and valet recycling pickup service support the environment and reduce the property’s carbon footprint. Because of the building’s age, other improvements continue to be made, from upgrading lighting to LEDs and constructing a new courtyard with seating, pergola, landscaping and water feature.
Park at Deerbrook Apartments | Rockstar Capital Management | Humble, Texas
Built more than 35 years ago, Deerbrook Apartments consists of 100 apartment homes in a classic garden-style design. After Rockstar acquired the property five years ago, it demonstrated aesthetically how a significant capital investment can transform a site, amenities and unit’s and be used to make major eco-friendly upgrades and the latest technological changes. Energy-efficient choices include new HVAC units, boilers, LED lighting, low-flow shower heads and water-restricting sink faucet aerators. A new look came from hardi-plank siding, flower beds and rocks along trails, cool deck around the relined swimming pool and porcelain tile in the common laundry room. Amenities were boosted with a new fitness center, dog park and outdoor grill. Customer service paired with technology gives Deerbrook its feeling of being new rather than originally built in 1984. There’s a 24/7-hour call center and panoply of social media tools to communicate with residents, whether that means answering queries or informing them about what’s happening onsite as well as events in Humble (part of the Houston metropolitan area) such as a breast cancer walk.
8500 Harwood | Greystar | North Richland Hills, Texas
Located within an affluent submarket, 8500 Harwood offers proximity to major employment centers, retail and entertainment destinations and a highly recognized public-school district. Yet, it was an underperforming property before Greystar took over management, following Aragon Holdings purchasing the building five years prior. Constructed in four phases between 1974 and 1985, the 836-unit dwelling has had its rotting wood patios, roofs, retaining walls, irrigation systems, landscaping, parking lots, fencing, gutters, four pools and decks, two-story fitness center and clubhouse all repaired or replaced. Energy conservation became a focus, and the building’s carbon footprint was reduced with LED fixtures, Energy Star appliances, high SEER AC units and more efficient laundry equipment. To compete with other buildings’ new amenities, a yoga studio, resident lounge with free Wi-Fi and dog park were added. Success is reflected in a higher occupancy rate that averages 98 percent annually versus the prior 92 percent, reduced crime stats, higher 72 percent renewal rate and minimal yearly employee turnover. Greystar’s changes also show up on the bottom line with last year’s income exceeding budget by $455,343.
Pendana at West Lakes | Columbia Residential | Orlando, Fla.
Pendana at West Lakes is the centerpiece of a revitalization of the West Lakes community adjacent to downtown Orlando. Led by LIFT Orlando, a nonprofit comprised of business leaders partnering with residents to transform communities, along with a partnership with property manager Columbia Residential, the effort has focused on housing improvement, educational excellence and health and resident services. The 200-unit, mixed-income building sits on the former Washington Shores apartment site that prior were vacant and dilapidated apartments. New amenities include landscaped grounds, a clubhouse with community center, fitness center, laundry room, business center, pool and playground. The site’s 13 buildings were designed to mirror historic Florida architecture, be environmentally sensitive, reflect National Green Building standards and fit the surrounding community. Columbia’s Apartment Life CARES team lives onsite and provides services including employment assistance. Now, with its revitalization and proximity to downtown Orlando, the property is sought after. More than 10,000 applicants were interested in the 200 units. Pendana set a new standard for affordable housing and has helped foster its area’s improvement, including schools.
Heroes Manor | Lincoln Military Housing | Camp Lejeune, N.C.
Part of the Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, the largest Marine Corps base on the East Coast, Heroes Manor provides a special place for 560 active service members with ranks of E1 to E5 and their families to live in new spacious three- and four-bedroom homes. Of those homes, 54 are ADA compliant. All include wood-grain flooring on lower levels and carpeting upstairs, family rooms, laundry rooms, some first-floor master bedrooms, attached two-car garages and screened porches that take advantage of the Jacksonville area’s moderate coastal climate. There are also neighborhood amenities such as 24-hour emergency maintenance, playgrounds, dog park, clubhouse with swimming pool and fitness center, walking paths, soccer field and community events. Additional pluses of living on the base are an elementary school and child development center within walking distance, hospital, golf course and beach access. The staff works to integrate families for however long they reside. The average turnover rate is 46.61 percent because of servicemembers’ deployments and end of active service discharges, making this a good home.
University View | Greystar | College Park, Md.
Three years ago, Greystar acquired University View—two high-rise towers with 507 beds close to the University of Maryland campus and more than 9,000-square-feet of retail space--in a joint venture with Rockpoint Group. At the time, the property had rents competitive with comparable assets, yet, it struggled with changing tastes. Student surveys and online reviews relayed that the study and social spaces were inadequate and didn’t suit student and parent expectations. To compete with brand new developments, a major makeover was needed to change the look, features and image. Greystar extensively remodeled shared indoor and outdoor spaces as well as apartments; it also maintained student rents. The image was retooled, and Hollis Brand Culture was tasked with repositioning the property’s branding to fit the redesign, including its sleek new amenity spaces. An abbreviated U/View moniker plus signage, logo and messaging all convey that it’s “All About U.” Just two years after acquisition, Greystar and its partner sold the community to a private investment company for $235 million, making it the country’s largest single-asset student trade.
Kimberly Hurd, NALP, CAM, CAPS | Senior Vice President of Operation | Sundance Property Management | Cincinnati
Kimberly Hurd began her career in the industry as a Leasing Consultant in 1996 and was quickly promoted through the ranks. During this time, she completed her NALP and CAM designations and completed AIT training to become an NAA Education Institute (NAAEI) faculty member. As her career took off and she was chosen to launch a management company from the ground up, education and apartment careers remained a core part of who she was. Leading operations, she completed her CAPS designation and was named NAAEI Designate of the Year in 2017. Hurd is passionate about the industry, its career opportunities and continuing education. Although her job as Senior Vice President is very demanding and time-consuming, she volunteers at every opportunity to help educate others.
She currently serves as the Education Chair for the Greater Cincinnati Northern Kentucky Apartment Association and Secretary on its Board of Directors. She is responsible for guiding the learning opportunities provided to membership. She teaches NALP and CAM for many different affiliates as a volunteer, asking for nothing in return other than the opportunity to impact others. She speaks to Next Gen and Young Professionals in rental housing offering guidance and career advice. She was named IAA Volunteer of the Year.
Hurd serves on numerous NAA committees, including Apartment Careers, Operations, Marketing and Communications (past Chair) and currently chairs Curriculum Development for NAAEI. She serves on the NAAEI Board of Directors and she has been a dedicated subject matter expert for many years volunteering her time and talent to the NALP, CAM and CAPS designation rewrites.
She would do anything to draw others into an industry that has done so much for her. To her, it’s a natural responsibility to give back. Hurd’s approach to career development and apartment industry education is one of collaboration and comfort. Although her title can be intimidating, she has a presence about her that invites others in and makes them feel welcome.
Terry (TJ) Fields | Professor | University of Alaska Anchorage
Terry (TJ) Fields is a Ball State University graduate who majored in Operations Management with a minor in Residential Property Management, and then earned an MBA and Master’s in RPM. Fields joined Weidner Apartment Homes upon graduation. He is currently Assistant Professor/Program Director of the Weidner Property Management and Real Estate Program (WPMRE) at the University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA).
TJ is unique in that he was very successful in the property management industry, and could have easily become a corporate executive of a major property management company. However, he instead chose to follow his passion to educate the future of the property management industry. As an educator, his efforts will be multiplied for years to come as his students become the future leaders of the apartment industry.
TJ’s industry experience makes him an ideal faculty member. In addition to textbooks, guest speakers, field trips and assignments, he can rely on his industry experience to guide students through the materials.
Having joined UAA in 2013, Fields has taught nine different courses ranging from introductory courses to more challenging capstone courses. He developed the entire WPMRE curriculum, which now incorporates several professional designations, including NALP and CAM.
As the WPMRE Program Director, he has advanced the program beyond expectations. The program now has a student organization, advisory board, monthly lecture series, scholarship program and annual field trip. There is tremendous growth in both the number of students in the program and the support from the property management industry.
Service Training Academy | Georgia Apartment Association Foundation | Atlanta
Georgia Apartment Association Foundation, the 501(c)(3) arm of the Georgia Apartment Association, was formed to provide an education platform to prepare individuals to join the apartment industry after it realized the void in the pipeline for new recruits. Virginia Tech started offering curriculum devoted to residential property management more than 25 years ago. Georgia’s leaders are working to deliver a formalized recruitment strategy or customized curriculum to aid apartment communities, at least in their state. Its Service Training Academy works to prepare individuals to become service team professionals with GAAF covering costs. Last year, it recruited more than 200 students through career fairs, outreach events and strategic partnerships. Students must pass criminal background and drug screenings and have access to a vehicle. They spend six weeks in an Atlanta classroom and seven days in on-the-job training. With their certificates in hand, they work with Academy staff to secure job placement. A waitlist of 36 potential students this year makes the Academy confident it will help fill team shortages.
Angel Davila, CAMT | National Maintenance Trainer | Monarch Investment and Management Group | Franktown, Colo.
After moving to Colorado from Texas, Angel Davila’s plan was to become involved with the Maintenance Apartment Professionals (MAP) program and show that continuing education is paramount for success in his industry, as is giving back by teaching, which helps develop future apartment industry leaders. Already, he’s taken steps toward these goals by planning to instruct in courses next year and join the NAA Education Institute’s Certified Apartment Maintenance Technician (CAMT) subcommittee. He’s also already been named 2019 Apartment Association of Metro Denver Certified Apartment Manager (CAM) Scholarship recipient. In his new role as the National Maintenance Trainer, he’s helping with light commercial maintenance at the corporate office and tackling tasks such as providing hands-on training, doing webinars, conducting certification courses, working with the asset managers and analysts to reduce costs and holding quarterly boot camps. His track record in Texas indicates that more is likely. There, some of his accomplishments were 2018 Texas Apartment Association Mary Williams Maintenance Professional of the Year; 2017 Austin Apartment Association Maintenance Professional of the Year, and 2016 Austin Apartment Association CAPS Scholarship recipient.
Catina Rhinehart, CAM, CAPS | Director of Operations | Morganton Management | Fayetteville, N.C.
With more than 16 years in the industry, Catina Rhinehart has moved up the career ladder admirably. She currently serves as Director of Operations for Morganton Management & Development, which manages 1,000 apartment homes in the Fayetteville area. Because of the many soldiers at Fort Bragg, 21 minutes away, she has developed strategies to deal with the high turnover and stress mentality of lease-up of soldiers and others who frequently move in and out. Turnover averages 64 percent annually, yet she’s been able to keep occupancy of her properties at almost 97 percent. One way has been to boost staff morale through events that show appreciation for their efforts. Another was setting up Fayetteville’s own Facebook page, which cites changes faster than emails, calls or faxes could. Because of her passion for education—dating back to her early workdays—she teaches NALP and CAM classes. She’s also volunteered with The Apartment Association of North Carolina as a board of trustee member. One goal this year is to develop more leaders within the local association as well as state affiliate.
Erika Martinez, NALP | Assistant Manager | Bohannon Development | El Paso, Texas
A fast-tracker, Erika Martinez started working as a leasing professional at Bohannon Development 2½ years ago and was promoted to assistant manager after just two years. She’s worked at three of its properties where she’s called on different management skills to succeed. Along the way, she earned three certifications—NALP, CPO and CAM—to help her grow more. On average, she leases 10 apartments per month. Most recently, she transferred to The Cottages at Edgemere where she works as its assistant manager. Off site, she attends The Greater El Paso Chamber of Commerce events to network and promote all Bohannon Properties. And she has been heavily involved in community activities such as an El Paso Apartment Association (EPAA) Back to School Supply drive to benefit the El Paso Kinship Program and a Texas Apartment Association (TAA) Education Conference Program. As part of her company’s 2017 summer “Staycaytion” program, her group donated $8,230 to the TAA Military Careers Initiative program to help fund scholarships. She has also participated in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure.
Linda Ross, CAM Emeritus | Property Manager | Fontainbleu Terrace Apartments | West Rock Properties | Huntsville, Ala.
Linda Ross’ career and volunteer work reflect her diligence in her community and larger association during the past 25 years. When she was hired as Fontainbleu Terrace’s property manager in 1994, it had a 72 percent occupancy rate and had reduced rents to overcome the vacancies. She increased numbers by setting new guidelines and better satisfying current residents’ needs. She also cut marketing expenses by improving word-of-mouth referrals. Occupancy since 1997 has remained between 98.6 percent and 100 percent. Ross also curtailed employee turnover by having the property owner set up an IRA retirement plan and match employee funds. In her larger community, she served on her local association board of directors, where she chaired the education committee for 12 years, volunteered on the legislative committee and developed the Rocket Award for association members. She also served on her Better Business Bureau board and helped to resolve landlord-tenant disputes. She has also trained other property managers. Through the years, her customers remained her biggest concern. “If they need assistance, I have an ear and will try to help however I can.”
Kristin McLaughlin, CAPS, CAS | Senior Business Development Manager | Mohawk Industries | Spring, Texas
In her 34-year career, Kristin McLaughlin has had many chances to lead, and believes her participation in local, state and national associations has made her an apartment housing expert and driven business to her current employer. Early on, she became a property supervisor and earned her Certified Apartment Portfolio Supervisor (CAPS) designation. She moved up to assistant manager, and then on to many other promotions, becoming a senior business development manager. She also moved from management to the association side and was recruited to be Membership and Benefits Director at the Arizona Multifamily Association. She next went full circle to the supplier side and sales/business development for a local supplier and national supplier partner. In her volunteer work, she took a global approach and encouraged everything from PAC participation to education and earning designations and serving to make the biggest difference, from selling an exposition booth to donating to the PAC or mentoring younger suppliers. She hopes by sharing her story she will be an example to the next generation and prove there’s an opportunity for a lifetime career within the rental housing community.
Washington Multi-Family Housing Association (WMFHA) | Renton, Wash.
The WMFHA is committed to using the strength and passion of its membership to positively influence its communities. One way has been to create a spirit of service to engage members via four like-minded organizations. 1) The Domestic Abuse Women’s Network shelters (DAWN) empower survivors and raise funds at an annual Chili Cook-Off event. WMFHA’s donation is regularly DAWNs largest unrestricted gift and contributes to its trauma emergency fund. 2) Childhaven offers babies and children prone to traumatic household situations therapeutic, safe and clean daycare services. It raises funds at its annual Holiday Giving Gala. 3) Move for Hunger mobilizes the relocation and apartment industry to rescue food and fight hunger and food waste. Last year, WMFHA donated nearly 3,500 pounds of food. 4) Rebuilding Together Seattle and Rebuilding Together Spokane repair homes, revitalize communities and rebuild lives. WMFHA has taken on these efforts because, in its words, “We are an inclusive, people-oriented association and are not only committed to our industry, but to the community at large.” Its work, rather than words, demonstrates this best, however.
The Apartment Association of Southern Colorado | Colorado Springs, Colo.
How and what we communicate can make a huge difference in the success of a message reaching and resonating with potential recipients. The marketing committee of the Apartment Association of Southern Colorado explored what might work best with members and non-members after it found that its weekly emails had a click-through rate that reached only 30 percent of members. It decided that videos might offer a broader reach and developed a vlog series called “60-Second Update” that focuses on education and newsworthy content. It takes just one minute or so to read or listen to them in emails and on social media platforms. The thinking was that even the busiest members might devote 60 seconds to timely topics. For consistency, the Association decided to release a new update every Wednesday. Started last September, the average reach has increased to more than 1,250 from 504. The series has been cost effective with some members bartering expertise for membership. Boosting weekly posts costs a modest $10. And the kudos keep piling up, example—“Thank you for this amazing feature!”
Apartment Association of Metro Denver | Greenwood Village, Colo.
Every three years, the Apartment Association of Metro Denver gathers to celebrate its growth, and last year it also toasted its 50th anniversary, a huge milestone. Its surge in growth is reflected in impressive numbers: It surpassed the 2015 attendance goal of 1,167 by having more than 1,300 present, along with 31 supplier companies and 59 owner/management companies. The association also demonstrated its success by giving awards in categories related to what an association needs to do excellent work such as sustainability, curb appeal, amenities, leasing experiences, resident engagement and renovations. In another category, it had 18 related to management and personnel for different types of leaders, from top brass executives to regional managers and leasing professionals, groundskeepers and housekeepers. And because the association wanted to make a big deal of the celebration for all who work so hard, as well as boost morale, every nominee’s name was listed on the association’s website and published in its monthly magazine. Everyone who attended also received a bracelet that would light up during specific program moments and had their picture taken.
New Jersey Apartment Association | Monroe, N.J.
The New Jersey Apartment Association Political Action Committee is its state’s largest and most effective PAC promoting the rental housing industry. It focuses on supporting state legislative candidates and incumbent legislators who advocate for quality housing, promotes a pro-business environment and advances policies that stimulate economic growth and job creation. It also works to make those aware—who aren’t—of what a PAC is and that pooled resources can offer a more powerful, cohesive message. Its voice and efforts have grown: Between 2014 and 2017, it increased contributions to the NJAA PAC by 17 percent, to $237,000 from $202,000. It did so by educating existing contributors on PAC’s importance and the need to give more, if possible. It also changed its format from a speaker’s panel to more informal gathering of more legislators, who would encourage members to have more intimate two-way conversations and build relationships. It published an easy-to-understand brochure whose goal was to explain its PAC organization, increase contributions and boost attendance at an annual reception. Already the brochure has increased PAC contributions by more than $25,000.
Utah Apartment Association Sandy, Utah
Lawyers, physicians, accountants, dentists and other professionals have all earned professional designations after completing coursework and passing exams. Some property managers now have the option of a comparable “degree.” Utah’s Apartment Association developed a Utah Professional Rental Operator designation program to provide training for professional rental property managers to give apartment owners, residents and others peace of mind by knowing that those who earn the designation finished one year of property management experience, attended 16 courses that reflect a well-rounded real estate education base and passed an exam. Courses are broken down into two-hour blocks to meet working professionals’ busy schedules. Tuition is kept to a modest $40 per class. Knowledgeable volunteer staff develop the curriculum and teach the classes. To date, the new program has reached 10 percent of the state’s targeted real estate groups, which the Association believes is a good start for the new program. An extra bonus is that those who have a real estate license can use this coursework for continuing education or CE credits.
Mason’s Keepe | Bozzuto Management Company | Manassas, Va.
Reducing energy to conserve resources and minimize costs is on most property managers’ to-do lists. At Mason’s Keepe, management has done so with a sprawling garden-style community featuring 270 apartment homes. Built 15 years ago, the property team recognized the chance to update systems two years ago with a focus on lowering energy and water use. For energy efficiency, it retrofitted pole lights and wall packs with LED bulbs, set vacant units’ AC temperatures to 85 degrees in summer and 65 degrees in winter, equipped clubhouse bathrooms with timers to control lights and replaced apartments with energy-efficient appliances. The parking lot lighting also was retrofitted, which demonstrated how helpful simply replacing outdated, inefficient parking lot lighting could be. By replacing just 119 fixtures, the company annually saved $10,000 in electricity. This didn’t include the additional cost of renting a third-party electrician with a lift truck to service lights several times a year. The result is that Mason became one of Bozzuto’s top common area energy reduction success stories last year, demonstrating a 16 percent decrease from the prior year.
The Beacon of Groveton | Bozzuto Management Company | Alexandria, Va.
The Beacon of Groveton, a seven-year-old luxury community in Alexandria, Va., outside Washington, D.C., was built on the site where one of the region’s first airfields used to operate. The property was preparing for a refinance. Ownership explored loans that would reward or prefer properties that carried a green building certification or showed a commitment that they were moving in that sustainable direction. Two years ago, Bozzuto took over management and last year commissioned an ASHRAE Level-2 Energy Audit (the first step to becoming more energy efficient). It quickly took on best practice preventive maintenance measures related to items such as thermostat and other equipment set points. As a result, the property experienced a reduction in energy consumption of more than 17 percent last year, compared to the prior year. That is among the best changes in Bozzuto’s portfolio. Because Dominion Energy in Northern Virginia, the property’s energy supplier, does not release data for an entire building—which prevents an Energy Star score to be generated, the property is in the process of a whole-building energy meter to track in Energy Star results.
Ardenaire | Mercy Housing | Sacramento, Calif.
Ardenaire, consisting of 53 apartment homes with 19 of permanent supportive housing for chronically homeless with severe mental disabilities, embarked on an innovative route to conserve energy. During a two-year period, property manager Mercy Housing initiated an energy retrofit that was part of its commitment through the Better Buildings Challenge to reduce consumption across its entire portfolio by 20 percent during a 10-year period. The changes came in at an impressive 67 percent EUI (Energy Use Intensity) reduction. Among the ways it did so were by replacing existing gas domestic hot water heating with electric heat pump water heaters and installing LED lighting, low-flow faucet aerators and showerheads, pipe and attic insulation, domestic hot water recirculation flow control and Energy Star washing machines. The work was undertaken as one of the first examples of applying the ESCO model to a multifamily affordable housing nonprofit. ESCO partner Affordable Community Energy Services Company evaluated opportunities, made upgrades and will maintain equipment for 10 years. The use of electric heat pump water heaters represents one of the country’s first examples of doing so in a rental housing structure.
Concord Crystal City | Bozzuto Management Company | Arlington, Va.
The owners of Concord Crystal City embarked on an aggressive campaign to reduce energy consumption throughout its community. Completed in 2007, the building was due for various upgrades. In addition to improving energy performance, there was interest in pursuing a refinance loan that would provide preferential terms for an Energy Star-certified property. Work began after completing a comprehensive energy audit. Completion included major changes: 1) LED lighting was retrofitted in apartment units, common areas both on the inside and outside, courtyard, landscaping and in the garage. 2) Timers were installed on pool pumps and for the pool water heater. 3) Adjusted scheduling was done for common area RTUs (remote terminal units). 4) CO/NO2 sensors were installed in the parking garage to control its fans. 5) A BMS (building management system) that controls and monitors mechanical and equipment via computer was installed. Quarterly inspections and daily walks help focus on identified inefficiencies. While the work is not yet complete to achieve the required 75 for Energy Star certification, a 26-point jump was achieved in one year, the best Bozzuto has achieved.
Crossings at Cherry | Veritas Equity Management | Tomball, Texas
Crossings at Cherry is a 124-unit apartment community in downtown Tomball, Texas. With only 2-, 3- and 4-bedroom apartments onsite, the average square footage is among the highest in the area with only nine units per acre. Upon Veritas’ acquisition of Crossings at Cherry in August 2017, they quickly realized that water usage absolutely was out of control, hitting its highest in October of 2017: the property’s water bill was $17,164.64 for 1,122.000 gallons.
The Crossings at Cherry team did everything it could to decrease usage, from informing residents on environmentally friendly ways to use water in their homes, to searching tirelessly for leaks in the property they might have missed. The team began a Water Conservation Project, including the replacement of all toilets, shower heads and aerators across the property with water-saving products. The Crossings water bills then decreased every month during 2018 and fell to the $3,000s (and only 176,000 gallons) by the end of 2018. They continue to decrease in 2019.
6500 South Apartments | Dayrise Residential LLC | Dallas
Managed by Dayrise Residential, based in Houston, and with a motto “We rise to shine,” this well-amenitized large property in southwest Dallas offers a variety of floor plans, a play park, a leash-free dog park, a cyber café, three swimming pools and a clubhouse with sports courts and fitness programs. Management made investments in 2017 and 2018 that included almost $226,000 spent on behind-the-scene essentials that are equally important to residents’ lives: Installation of water-saving devices, including the replacement of 695 toilets and 612 shower heads. Existing faucets were upgraded with low-flow aerators and interior upgrades were retrofitted with new low-flow faucets. Besides conserving water, reducing electricity costs through lighting choices became a focus and 544 exterior lights were added with LED bulbs at a cost of $48,504. Results were achieved with energy costs reduced 23.9 percent, and water use curtailed 53.8 percent.
Parkway Heights | WinnCompanies | Everett, Mass.
Parkway Heights, a 74-unit mixed-income property in Everett, Mass., north of Boston, was constructed 13 years ago. In 2017, the property used more than 4 million gallons of water and spent $87,000 on its water and sewer costs. Property manager WinnResidential thought it could reduce this property’s water consumption just as other properties had done. After assessing existing flow rates, it projected a 17.5 percent reduction of 706,550 gallons if it upgraded fixtures. To maintain resident comfort and aesthetics, the company and its vendor identified retrofit options: 0.8 gallon-per-flush toilets, 1.75 gallon-per-minute showerheads and 1.0 gallon-per-minute bathroom aerators. It also installed tamper-proof fixtures that prevent them from being removed. Total installation cost came to $28,000 with a payback before two years. The choices proved smart: After just four months, water consumption dropped 21.7 percent from the year before, and the property’s Water Score—a rating from 1-100 of how a building uses water compared to similar properties nationwide—has gone up to 61 last year from 55 in 2017.
The Kensington | Bozzuto Management Company | Boston
The Kensington, a swank apartment property in Boston with resort-style pool, gym, lounge and communal kitchen, has been ranked as one of the top apartment communities in the country for several years. It’s also LEED Gold-certified. Despite its high level of aesthetics and service, problems arose, and management identified three different leaks coming from cooling towers. The leaks had caused extensive water usage two years prior. By increasing awareness and the property manager focusing on all major mechanicals, the team detected leaks in one of its hot-water tanks, which led to its replacement. Management also detected leaks in its boilers, which led to increased management procedures and greater efficiency. The team also initiated quarterly water meter checks to be proactive, and these, in turn, led to replacements and changes that have kept readings accurate. During quarterly preventive maintenance walks in all the site’s apartment homes, checks have been made for water leaks whether in toilets, faucets or icemakers. As a result of the changes, the Water Score climbed to 91 this year from 84 last year.
AMLI West Plano | AMLI Residential | Plano, Texas
AMLI West Plano has shown its commitment to smart resource conservation practices. A year ago, its property management installed solar arrays on its building and three others in Texas. The arrays are expected to produce a combined 1,902,800 kWh and save almost $75,000 in the first year. To help engage residents, AMLI set up a renewable energy program in partnership with Green Mountain Energy. The program developed a web portal (www.greenmountainenergy.com/amli/) for AMLI residents in its Dallas and Houston communities to sign up to purchase energy from wind and solar sources. The efforts helped reduce the amount of energy required to run the buildings and support growth of Texas’ renewable energy industry. Other ways it educated residents were through posters that promoted the Clean Energy initiative and a tour of the solar arrays and information from Green Mountain about the benefits of solar power. It also used the feature as a marketing tool with prospective residents during their leasing tours. Results proved successful. The building achieved LEED Gold certification and received Plano’s Environmental Star of Excellence Award.
Central Pointe Apartments | Ginkgo Residential | Charlotte, N.C.
Built more than 47 years ago, Central Point Apartments has undergone a major renovation during the last 18 months because of Gingko Residential’s new ownership. That company’s focus was to make the property more energy- and water-efficient because of residents’ concerns about their high power and water bills because of the property’s age. To determine where energy was being lost, blower door tests were performed by placing a large fan blower over the main entry door. Wherever drafts were identified, walls, doors and attics were sealed and better insulated. At the same time, enough air quality was maintained so that rooms would not be too airtight and unhealthy. Additionally, each apartment home was renovated to include low-flow and energy-conserving appliances, fixtures and faucets. Solar panels were installed to lower power used for buildings like the clubhouse and office and features like the pool/pump room and exterior lighting. The changes have produced a decline in utility bills and carbon footprint. The return on investment is estimated at 14 percent. And key: Residents no longer voice concerns.
Michelle M. Childers, NALP, CAS, RAM | Director of Client Services | Chadwell Supply | Birmingham, Ala.
Even after 29 years in the apartment industry, Childers continues to reliably and passionately serve NAA and its affiliates through committee work and advocacy. As a founding member of the Birmingham Apartment Association, she trained more than 500 employees in NAA certification classes and continues to lead strategic planning sessions for local associations. In 2017, she was honored to serve as National Suppliers Council (NSC) Chair where the NSC experienced many firsts, including the first joint Executive Board meeting between NSC and NAA, which many consider to be one of the most important partnership established to date.
Childers in 2016 was inducted into the Greater Birmingham Apartment Association Hall of Fame after she served multiple years as Chair for its Trade Show, Education and Membership committees. At NAA, this Lyceum Graduate served on the Growth, Diversity and Inclusion, PAC, NAA G.I.V.E.S., Operations and Stakeholders’ committees and task forces and was NAA Apartmentalize Chair representative, among other volunteer positions.
Supriya Sriraman | Managing Principal | Redbrix Property Group | Allen, Texas
Supriya Sriraman, Managing Principal of The Brix, a 52-unit property in Dallas, has considered community involvement an essential part of why she took a job in rental property management years ago. In her words, “Being an immigrant, I know what it feels like to be out of place and what it takes to ‘belong.’ Bringing a sense of belonging is what I have strived to do at each stage of my life.” For example, she has taken that same sense of community building into her life as a professional by participating and providing the right environment for communities to thrive. She started to allow residents from one property to use the common facilities of a swimming pool and gym at a neighboring property. She hopes to orchestrate combined happy hours and socials so residents can share local neighborhood wisdom and connect. She is equally passionate about her charity work. Her own words again say it best, “We are an inclusive, people-oriented association and are not only committed to our industry, but to the community at large.”
Robert Martinez | Rockstar Capital Management | Humble, Texas
For more than 10 years, Robert Martinez has been a rock star with the Houston Apartment Association (HAA) as both an individual and through his company, Rockstar Capital Management, which now manages a 19-property portfolio of 3,243 units across the Houston MSA. Assets exceed $285 million. Martinez regularly participates in HAA events annually, and encourages his staff to do so, too. His favorite is the annual Honors Awards, which recognizes the association’s best. For the past eight years, a dozen of his and his team’s properties have been honored. But work is far from what rocks his world. He has passionately given back to his community, primarily through the charitable arm of his business, #RockstarCares, established three years ago. Its mission is to provide a platform and resources that encourage employees to be change-artists in their communities. For example, in honor of his mother, a breast cancer survivor, he established the Ninfa Martinez Butterfly Fund, which provides financial help to his communities’ residents who struggle paying for their breast cancer treatments. A 2018 walk helped to raise $25,000.
Justin Frost | Director of Sales | Affinity Waste Solutions | Oviedo, Fla.
Co-Founder and Co-Owner of Affinity Waste Solutions, Justin Frost helped launch the company several years ago. It now employs 180. Frost took charge of business development and managing the sales team and human resource department. He’s equally passionate about putting others ahead of himself and has often been among the first to volunteer his or his team’s time at association events. In a short period, he’s been recognized and won numerous awards. He also serves in many roles such as the secretary for the Product Service Counsel of the Florida Apartment Association. Despite his busy work and volunteering, he’s helped with major industry challenges. Case in point: The Florida State Fire Marshalls’ effort to regulate valet trash, which could have made it illegal to offer valet trash at apartment communities. Residents would have had to haul trash to a Dumpster. Frost spearheaded a coalition that teamed with valet trash companies and local and state associations to present a bill, which succeeded and became law last April. These efforts helped save the local valet trash industry and more than 2,000 jobs.
Alice J. Ehn | Executive Officer | Washtenaw Area Apartment Association (WAAA) | Ann Arbor, Mich.
Alice J. Ehn is an Executive Officer who leads the Washtenaw Area Apartment Association (WAAA), ensuring success and financial stability of the organization for the counties of Washtenaw, Lenawee, Livingston and Monroe.
WAAA is a comparatively small association and had only one employee until three years ago. Because of limited resources, Ehn served as staff liaison to all committees, while working for the Board of Directors full-time, keeping the association moving forward at all levels, including advocacy.
Ehn worked with local municipalities to make significant changes to the inspection programs that affect members, including gaining an additional year on periodic inspections, moving from 2.5 years to 3.5 years and reducing the number of re-inspections by negotiating a standard checklist. Ehn also recently increased the education program, finding creative ways to offer the NAA designation programs by partnering with another small organization to make it happen.
Ehn, who was named NAA Advocate of the Year in 2017, introduced an action center her state association that helped to get legislation that prohibited the growing of marijuana in apartments over the finish line in the lame-duck session.
Ehn continues to bring new ideas back to the Association, says its President, Kristen Diamond. When she realized that the association wasn’t doing everything it could to give back to its community, she proposed a charitable arm and spearheaded Grace Outreach, an organization that focuses on helping families or veterans get back on their feet to begin the journey of moving forward with their lives.