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More of Us Walk the Walk

If you’re running into your neighbors on the sidewalk a lot more these days, this may help explain it:

A new study from the Centers for Disease Control shows that six in 10 adults, or 62 percent, reported they’d taken at least a 10-minute walk in the past week. That’s up from 56 percent in 2005.

“More than 145 million adults are now getting some of their physical activity by walking,” Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, director of the CDC, said in a statement.  Walking burns calories, improves your mood, takes no special equipment or training, and doesn’t stress your body.

“People who are physically active live longer and are at lower risk for heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, depression and some cancers,” Frieden said. “Having more places for people to walk in our communities will help us continue to see increases in walking, the most popular form of physical activity among U.S. adults.” Walking is good for the planet, as well.

By walking to work, to the store or to the post office – instead of driving your car —  you’ll be cutting down on air pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, oil consumption and the money you spend on gas, maintenance and parking.  http://www.greenlivingapartments.com/

The results of the study, released Aug. 8 by the Centers for Disease Control, showed that in the West, roughly 68 percent of people walked at least 10 minutes — more than any other region in the country. In the South, 49 percent said they walked in 2005, but that rose to 57 percent in 2010, the report said.

For many people, the Mayo Clinic recommends walking five to 10 minutes daily and slowly building up to 15 minutes twice a week. Over several weeks’ time, you can gradually work your way up to 30 to 60 minutes of walking most days each week.

For other walking tips, including how to start a walking club, visit the Mayo Clinic site or the CDC site.







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Just Charge It? No, Just Unplug It

Shocking but true:  You’re increasing your monthly home energy consumption 10 percent or more if you leave your electronic devices plugged in around the clock.

Computers, printers, cell phone chargers, TVs, hair dryers, cable TV boxes, digital cameras, microwave ovens, DVD players and video game consoles all draw power when they’re turned off but still plugged in to wall outlets.  In fact, a quarter of the energy used by your TV each year is consumed when the TV is off, according to Colgate University.

So, yes, even though you dutifully power down your computer before bed each night, like many of your other consumer electronics, it still sucks power.  Thus the nicknames of  “phantom load,” “energy vampire” and “secret energy addicts.”

Greenlivingapartments.com reports that the phantom load in the average household consumes 1,000 kilowatt hours of electricity annually. That’s enough energy to power an entire home for two months, or more.

John Schueler of the U.S. Department of Energy writes:  “With the average American household owning 25 consumer electronic devices, you can begin to see how these phantom loads can translate into a significant chunk of your energy bill.”

But the good news is you don’t have to run around plugging and unplugging 15 different devices twice a day. A nifty device called a power cord or power strip houses a row of outlets, and by hitting one toggle switch, you can turn them all off.  A “Smart Strip”  Smart Strips  is a bit more expensive but does the work automatically, easily slaying your Energy Vampire.

Unplugging your electronics also helps the environment.  Phantom-load consumption equates to approximately 500 pounds of greenhouse gas emissions a year per household where the electricity is generated primarily through the burning of coal, writes Michael Bloch at GreenLivingTips.com.

“We could knock 1 percent of the amount of carbon dioxide being spewed into the atmosphere just by switching appliances and devices off at the wall when not in use,” Bloch writes.

Three other handy energy-saving tips from GreenApartmentLiving.com:

1. Swap out incandescent bulbs for compact fluorescent bulbs. CFs use about 66 percent less energy and last up to 10 times longer.

2. Turn down your thermostat by two degrees in the winter (and up two degrees in the summer). You’ll save 2,000 pounds of carbon dioxide this year.

3. Switch to cold-water washing and save 80 percent on laundry energy.








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What It Means to Go Green

Implementing change in the apartment development business is a tall order.  Contractors introducing new techniques or materials fear costly delays, call backs, or even building failures.  What’s more, renters are extremely price-sensitive and tend to chase lower rents.  So additional costs, whether related to learning curves or more expensive materials and equipment, are difficult to pass through to customers.

There are really only three reasons why change happens at all: legislation, value creation, or market demand.  Governments – whether local, state or federal – may mandate change in building practices or equipment efficiency standards, such as the steady increase in minimum SEER ratings required by code.  Developers may begin to introduce new features incrementally in the hopes of squeezing out higher rents or stealing customers from existing competitors; granite countertops and stainless steel appliances found their way into apartments throughout the last decade in this way.  And when upgrades become standard features, new developments must meet the market demand by providing these features, if they hope to capture even baseline market rents.

When we first started dipping our toes into green building, it was motivated by the anticipation of legislation.  The memory of costs and headaches brought about by the accessibility requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act was still fresh in our minds, and in early 2007, we decided to try to get ahead of it.  However, what our “Green Team” discovered is that green, when done right, can represent a low-cost opportunity for differentiation in a crowded, commoditized business.

In our next “Getting Green Right” blog post, we’ll give you our thoughts on “How green is green enough?”

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Our Commitment to Doing Green Right

Green building is now at the core of everything we do at Wood Partners; not because it’s trendy, but because – when it’s done right – it just makes sense.

We design and construct every new project to the standards of the ENERGY STAR® for New Homes or the energy efficiency standards of the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program from the U.S. Green Building Council whenever possible. And we don’t stop there. Many of our communities also incorporate construction waste recycling, transit orientation and other techniques to reduce their environmental impact.

We focus on making our buildings better – not just slapping on the latest green technology – so that our properties stand the test of time and continue to deliver real value to both our residents and our investors.

Wood Partners’ 100 percent commitment to green building is the result of detailed research during which we surveyed our tenants, explored alternatives and created detailed cost analyses.

In a 2007 survey of our 6,000 apartment residents at the time, 80% of those who responded said environmental issues were a concern – particularly energy conservation and recycling – and more than 60% said it affects their purchase decisions.

To respond to our residents’ concerns, our experienced and creative construction team developed a detailed strategy to achieve the standards of ENERGY STAR or LEED that we believe is the most comprehensive and effective in the industry.

Today we are comfortable with green building, and confident that Wood Partners can deliver the lowest cost, highest quality green communities of any high-volume builder in the country.