07 Jan 2019

Sustainability Profile - Watermark Kendall West

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Property Spotlight: Watermark Kendall West

Location: Cambridge, MA

  • Building Type: High rise apartment
  • Building Size: 374,603 sq ft
  • Constructed: 2006
  • Acquired: 2003
  • Property Manager: Gables Residential

Property Overview:

Overlooking the Charles River and the MIT campus in Cambridge, Watermark Kendall West offers 321 units of modern, full-service apartment space. The building is home to a diverse community of international graduate students and young to middle-aged professionals working in Cambridge and Boston.

Improving Sustainability:

Located in the tech-savvy MIT Kendall Square neighborhood, Watermark Kendall West earns its place among its innovative neighbors, operating under the mantra of "no matter how ‘green’ you build a building, if you don’t operate the building in a way that is focused on the environmental impact, you aren’t reducing the building’s impact on the environment as much as possible." The property identifies best-in-class sustainability strategies to guide its environmental efforts, in addition to implementing a hands-on operations management approach.

The property has systematically improved its energy performance through a combination of capital upgrades and operational management approaches. The property team has implemented a comprehensive energy management program, which includes the trending and continual adjustment of EMS setpoints to reduce energy consumption, while balancing occupant comfort levels. The team also re-engineered the building’s original boiler system to include storage tanks and controls to increase efficiency of heating and cooling operations, optimized operations of heat exchangers through preventative maintenance, and implemented daily maintenance walk-throughs to ensure peak equipment performance. With guidance attained through the LEED certification process and ASHRAE audits, the Watermark team retrofitted incandescent fixtures in residential units with compact fluorescent bulbs and replaced common area, lobby, and elevator fixtures with LEDs. Together, these improvements have helped avoid over $108,000 in energy costs1 and reduce energy use by 1,183,349 kWh2 since April 2014.

Opportunities to reduce water consumption are continually identified. Since 2014, the property team has replaced original shower heads with 1.5 gallon per minute (GPM) fixtures and retrofitted kitchen and bathroom faucets with 1.5 GPM aerators in all resident units. Additionally, drip irrigation and irrigation controls were added to water the building’s vegetated roof and landscaped balcony. As a result of these and other efforts, the property has saved over 2 million gallons of water per year.

In addition to the efforts outlined above, the property team has implemented a robust tenant education and engagement program. Initiatives in this program include: sustainability information highlighted on its website, signage in model units describing sustainable building attributes, and a Green Living Guide provided to tenants in their leasing packet that discusses green building facts and tenant ways to save energy and water. The Watermark team also provides tenants with free Green Seal cleaning products and a variety of opportunities to recycle light bulbs, batteries, and various other materials.

Key Facts, Awards, and Recognition:

  • ENERGY STAR® Certification (2015)
  • LEED EBOM Gold (2010 with re-certification in 2015)
  • Completed ASHRAE Level II audit (2014)
  • City of Cambridge GoGreen Waste Reduction, multi-family residential award (2011)
  • City of Cambridge GoGreen Special Award for Climate Action (2010)
  • 16.7% water use reduction
  • 18.9% energy use reduction

Sustainability Initiatives:

The property team has utilized the following strategies to reduce energy, water, and waste and to improve the environmental impact of Watermark Kendall West:

  • Installed ENERGY STAR kitchen appliances and washing/drying machines
  • Utilized low and no-VOC paint
  • Installed water-sourced heat pumps with programmable thermostats
  • Installed operable windows and shades allowing control over natural lighting and outside air
  • Installed high-efficiency water fixtures
  • Incorporated bamboo flooring
  • Purchased sustainable office furniture
  • Incorporated a vegetated roof and landscaped terrace, equipped with drip irrigation systems
  • Committed to purchase renewable energy certificates and carbon offsets to cover 50% of the building’s energy consumption for two years
  • Installed cogeneration equipment to produce off the grid electricity
  • Installed variable frequency drives to increase overall efficiency of building equipment
  • Incorporated low-e glass to reduce heat gain and improve energy efficiency
  • Recycled 69% of ongoing consumables through a comprehensive recycling program
  • Alternative transportation encouraged through location near subway, ZipCars in parking garage, and 50 bicycle racks
  • Added signage in model units for potential residents to learn about the building’s sustainable attributes
  • Promoted sustainability education through Green Living Guides
  • Provided tenants with on-site battery and light bulb recycling programs
  • Implemented a green cleaning program by providing tenants with free Green Seal cleaning products and requiring all building maintenance and cleaning teams to use Green Seal approved cleaning


About PRPI:

The Pillars of Responsible Property Investing (PRPI) initiative is a unique sustainability and investment platform developed to drive superior asset management and fiduciary governance. For more information on how PRPI is delivering positive financial and environmental results for Principal Real Estate Investors, please visit https://www.principalglobal.com/principal-real-estate-investors/responsible-property-investing.


The information in this document has been derived from sources believed to be accurate as of June 2016. Information derived from sources other than Principal Global Investors or its affiliates is believed to be reliable; however we do not independently verify or guarantee its accuracy or validity.

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