Fifty years ago today, the first Earth Day took place to demonstrate support for environmental protection for our planet. It has grown to include events coordinated globally by the Earth Day Network in more than 193 countries, events that, this Earth Day, will be “celebrated” amidst the backdrop of a global pandemic.
We already know that the Earth is being positively impacted by reduced human traffic due to social distancing measures. The current state of the world further underscores that we are all connected and that what each of us does impacts every other person as well as the entire planet. So, rather than just celebrating Earth Day, ULC is tangibly taking charge to reduce our environmental impact.
Since our inception 17 years ago, ULC has envisioned a region where underserved, at-risk populations are able to live and thrive within diverse and vibrant neighborhoods. More than 90% of our community investments have been at rail stations and bus lines to increase permanently affordable housing and nonprofit facilities while increasing access to public transit and reducing our carbon footprint. We know that a large part of this depends on environmental factors. ULC is committed to social and environmental practices that improve energy and natural resource efficiency in the built environment. We also encourage and support “green behavior” of our tenants and partners to increase resource conservation and waste reduction in new and existing buildings across our portfolio.
ULC’s Tramway Nonprofit Center (pictured above) in Denver’s Cole neighborhood is an affordable space for nonprofits and mission-minded companies and it features one of the largest solar energy systems on a nonprofit facility in the state. The array is keeping electrical costs for all the organizations in the building at a fixed rate for the next 20 years. In just two years, the system has offset enough carbon to save the equivalent of 140 acres of pine forests and has generated enough energy to power 3,700 computers for a year.
Currently, ULC is completing a $3 million sustainable energy upgrade including a geothermal system and a 440 kWh solar array for our partners at AmeriCorps SW at our Oxford Vista campus in SE Aurora. These upgrades combine efficient systems in innovative ways to maximize both an environmental and economic benefit. Set to be operational in the near future, ULC expects AmeriCorps’ electrical system to operate at net-zero after implementation, reducing the annual electric consumption by over 720,000 kWh when the building is operating at peak capacity, thereby reducing ULC’s environmental impact on the electric grid.
In making these sustainable energy upgrades, ULC is also building towards the future. We are prolonging our impact and lifespan of the campus. Beyond reducing the amount of carbon we are putting in the atmosphere, we are ensuring that whoever occupies our buildings has a more sustainable environment to do their work.
With the success of Oxford Vista as a guiding goal, we aim to make sustainable as many of ULC’s buildings as possible. In doing so, we will increase our ability to preserve space in historically redlined neighborhoods in line with our mission of increasing our community’s nonprofit’s and mission-minded organization’s ability to thrive. As ULC expands our sustainable upgrades at our properties, we hope to create a model for other real estate companies to follow as the need for environmentally sustainable construction grows stronger.
During this global pandemic, join us in not just celebrating the Earth, but committing to its future and longevity.