In September 2007, Matthew Pace submitted his thesis to obtain his Master of Science degree in Real Estate Development at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Having graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in International Business in 2001 from Pepperdine University, Pace set out to make a difference. His thesis, Green Luxury Student Housing: A Real Estate Feasibility Study, explains the market demand for green luxury student housing. With almost 17 million college and graduate students in the United States, there is clearly a demand for green, luxury student housing.
Pace explains how sustainable development is not so much a shift from conventional real estate development, but an improvement of it. Long-term costs are reduced through sustainable development and natural resources are preserved. Pace defines sustainable development or green development as efficient structures that use materials wisely to reduce the carbon footprint of the building. As Pace sees it, building green reduces waste, decreases maintenance costs, increases the longevity of the building and benefits its occupants.
In an educational setting, Pace notes how the sustainable development of dormitory housing can also teach students about conservation, which enhances the academic experience of those students occupying green student housing. Pace discusses a wide variety of eco-friendly options for housing, including solar hot water (which is one of the most energy efficient technologies), solar photovoltaic cells, wind turbines, rainwater capturing, geothermal heating and cooling and the use of green (or vegetated) roofs. Pace also discusses the importance of transit-oriented development, so that occupants can continue to live a green lifestyle by utilizing a multitude of transit options, such as walking, biking and public transit as a means of traveling between off-campus student housing, their educational institution and within a city. He also talks about the importance of orienting a building to work with the sun, so that sunlight can passively heat the building and act as natural light during the day, which reduces energy costs.
Pace talks about an important feature of new, green development, which is prefabricated modular building or prefab building. Prefab developments are very green because they reduce the cost of the construction, in terms of time and materials. When parts of buildings are built in a factory, waste from one project can be reused in another and the process is very efficient. For Pace, the concept of luxury housing isn’t really about marble countertops. It’s more a concept of new housing. Pace’s idea of luxury is a new apartment with upgraded interior finishes and free wi-fi Internet.
Clearly, Pace has demonstrated that college and graduate students throughout the country want housing that is green. His thesis is a thorough examination of this demand and explains how universities and developers can create a supply of green student housing that will benefit both students and the environment. EnviroCitizen.org hopes that other active thinkers like Pace will step forward to continue to innovate the way in which we try to maintain a green way of life!