Today we celebrate Earth Day and are reminded that collectively, we must all do our part to protect the environment, starting with the communities in which we live. Most recently, Mercy Housing Northwest (MHNW) has partnered with University of Washington’s Evans School of Public Policy & Governance to develop an innovative program for environmental sustainability and best practices that we can implement at our Northwest properties.
MHNW’s Real Estate Development team joined forces with four graduate students at UW — Dan, Cassie, Xiaoying, and Yifan — to focus on water conservation efforts at Mercy Housing communities as part of a graduate degree capstone project. This project’s goal is to help educate Mercy Housing residents and inspire them to reduce water consumption on a daily basis. Thirty residents participated in focus groups conducted at Mercy Housing’s Seattle properties – Mercy Othello Plaza and Emerald City Commons. Asked which activities they believe consume the most water and which incentives would be most helpful in motivating them to conserve water, a majority of participants did not have a sense of how much water they consumed, but showed interest in learning more about ways to conserve.
At these properties, we learned that the top two motivators to conserve water are financial rewards from utility bill savings and educational programs to help residents conserve. Based on these top incentives from the focus group sessions, we issued a challenge to participating residents to see if they can reduce their water consumption for the month of April. We plan to implement the final recommendations at other properties across Washington, so that all of our communities become more environmentally sustainable.
The project has been a great educational and hands-on opportunity for the UW graduate students, who are learning alongside our residents. They’ve been surprised by some of the focus group findings, in particular that residents are so eager to be educated on conservation methods and their water usage. Among the diverse group of participants sitting together, it was eye-opening to hear the perspective of a few African residents who are inspired to conserve water when they think about their family and friends in their home countries who have limited access to clean water.
As part of Mercy Housing’s GreenHope Environmental Sustainability efforts, MHNW is working collaboratively with our community to find creative ways to reduce consumption of natural resources at our communities. We are committed to providing the educational and financial incentives our residents desire, in order to inspire positive change in our communities and beyond.
In honor of Earth Day, we challenge you to take part in your own conservation efforts this month. Did you know that you can save nearly 5 gallons of water by cutting two minutes from your shower time? Not only will you save on your utility bill, but this simple change can help prevent water shortages and provide more fresh water reserves in the future. Fresh water is one of our most valuable resources on Earth and is essential for the survival of humans, animals, and vegetation. We can all do a better job at preserving this natural resource. Here are some handy conservation tips to keep in mind as you go about your day: 13 Best Ways to Save Water