Welcome back to part 2 with Karen Cusmano, SVP, Head of Sustainability and ESG at Veris Residential, Inc; a forward-thinking, socially responsible REIT that provides a sustainable multifamily living experience for residents. If you missed the last episode #69, be sure to check it out as we covered How to Rent an Environmentally Friendly Apartment.
Today, we’re diving deeper into green living to shed light on what a green lease lifestyle looks like at a sustainable property. In this episode, we’re talking about ways that renters take advantage of eco-friendly amenities once they’ve signed a green lease.
- The type of eco-friendly amenities found at Veris Residential properties
- What a Walker’s Paradise means for residents
- The non-glamourous, yet impactful aspects of sustainable living features
- Biodiversity at Veris Residential including green roofs, hydroponic tower gardens, and beekeeping
- The social factors: fundraising, tree planting, and community events at Veris Residential
Remember, ‘Sustainability is a lens through which we view every decision, every action, every day.’
This episode of Healthy Home Hacks is brought to you by Veris Residential, a forward-thinking and socially responsible real estate investment trust that provides holistically inspired Class A multifamily properties that meet the sustainability-conscious lifestyle needs of today’s residents. It is the company’s mission to serve ‘Properties, People, and The Planet.’ Veris Residential has done the work to integrate eco-friendly amenities into its properties so that you can reduce your carbon footprint simply by walking through its doors. The company’s newest development Haus25 in Jersey City features SOURCE hydropanels (an advanced renewable technology that uses solar power to extract net-zero water from the air), 24 electric vehicle Blink IQ 200 charging stations, 375 bike parking spaces, Wi-Fi-enabled thermostats, Energy Star appliances, and 37,000 square feet of gardens and outdoor amenities (including green roof). Visit www.Haus25.com or www.Verisresidential.com to learn more.
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How would you like to improve your health and keep your family safe? You're listening to the Healthy Home Hacks podcast where we firmly believe in joining optimal health shouldn't be a luxury. Healthy Home authorities and husband and wife team Ron and Lisa will help you create a home environment that will level up your health. It's time to hear from the experts. Listen in on honest conversations and gain the best tips and advice. If you're ready to dive in and improve your well-being and increase your energy, you're in the right place. All right, here are your hosts, Building Biologists, authors, media darlings, vicarious vegans and avocado aficionados, Ron and Lisa Beres.
Lisa Beres 00:51
This episode of Healthy Home Hacks is brought to you by Veris Residential, a forward-thinking and socially responsible real estate investment trust that provides holistically inspired Class A multifamily properties that meet the sustainability-conscious lifestyle needs of today�s residents. It is the company�s mission to serve �Properties, People, and The Planet.� Veris Residential has done the work to integrate eco-friendly amenities into its properties so that you can reduce your carbon footprint simply by walking through its doors. The company�s newest development Haus25 in Jersey City features SOURCE hydropanels (an advanced renewable technology that uses solar power to extract net-zero water from the air), 24 electric vehicle Blink IQ 200 charging stations, 375 bike parking spaces, Wi-Fi-enabled thermostats, Energy Star appliances, and 37,000 square feet of gardens and outdoor amenities (including green roof). Visit www.Haus25.com or www.Verisresidential.com to learn more.
Ron Beres 01:57
The greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it. - Robert Swann
Lisa Beres 02:05
Hey friends and welcome back to part two. In the last episode, we took a peek into how you can rent an environmentally friendly property covering everything from sustainability something called a WELL health and safety rating certification and even green leases. Today we're diving deeper into green living just shed light on what a Green Lease lifestyle looks like at a sustainable property.
Ron Beres 02:30
We're back with Karen Cusmano from Veris Residential Inc, a forward thinking socially responsible REIT that provides sustainable multifamily living experience for residents Karen Cusmano is Senior Vice President, head of sustainability and ESG with the job of spearheading the company's ambitious sustainability goals. And today, we're talking about ways that renters take advantage of eco-friendly amenities once they've signed that Green Lease. Welcome to the show, Karen.
Lisa Beres 03:05
Welcome back, Karen. Thank you happy to be here. We are so happy to have you. It was such an insightful conversation. And we are going to pick this up where we left off. So, let's dive right in. So, Karen, what does the concept eco-friendly amenities mean at your properties?
Karen Cusmano 03:24
Well, there's just so many that we're piloting or different buildings and you know, sometimes it could sound like really boring, and we're just really excited about it and things like well, EV chargers are becoming really, really big over on the northeast here I am assuming over in your area.
Lisa Beres 03:44
So many. It's already though many. Yeah.
Karen Cusmano 03:47
So, we're dealing with... So, I am an EV driver and I am constantly I have you know, always like charged anxiety, I have range anxiety, I have it all and then really, I had like 11% and I get to my charger and the charger was broken. So we feel that it's very important that our residents are able to if they want an easy vehicle that they can actually come to our building and a lot of charging happens you know, when you're at home you want to charge and so just one very big thing that we're dealing with in our buildings is just figuring out how to keep our residents happy. And when you come home and you want to charge like that you have the charger there and you're not pulling up and going oh no, someone's there and you know, freaking out so you know, EV charging support and we use green cleaning products through you know, throughout the building. We have vertical farms that are building, which is very urban buildings with a vertical farm.
Ron Beres 04:52
What kind of things do you grow Karen in the vertical farm?
Karen Cusmano 04:55
We grow basil and cilantro so we have a lot of herbs. We grow but just regular lettuce, you know, we do some bok choy and some, like all different things, we probably harvest about 150 pounds of produce mass.
Lisa Beres 05:10
Oh my gosh!
Ron Beres 05:12
Well how much wall space is this for 450 pounds.
Karen Cusmano 05:14
So, we actually had an old, I would say it was an old retail unit that just wasn't leasing and we felt that we could do something better with it. So, we've like, redesigned and taken that old retail it was doing nothing it has, you know, storefront people can walk by, that's really cool. There's branding, it's there's advertising, they're teaching people like doing this, like it's 30% Faster than regular produce, so and our residents get to come down, and they work with our farmer, you know, it adds to social to because they actually can come and you know, bring their children down. And in an urban environment, some children haven't had a farm or since seeing something grow like that. So, we're really excited about that.
Lisa Beres 06:00
That is amazing.
Ron Beres 06:01
No need for a farmer�s market. You just go downstairs,
Karen Cusmano 06:03
Go downstairs and there's no transportation and you're just right, you know, from cut to plate. So, we're really excited about that
Lisa Beres 06:15
So now do the residences get to take what they want. Do they pay for it? How does that work?
Karen Cusmano 06:20
Yeah, so we try to keep it to like two bags or resident so that everyone gets to have it and then anything that's not used we put into our front refrigerator where they come down and get it at any other time if they don't grab it on harvest day. Oh, wow, we've did a like a slight increase in an amenity fee, like you know, less than maybe it's like $5 so inexpensive compared to how much the produce you're getting a month, you know, the prices of produce and traveling, so to have it right there. So, we're really excited about that. And the residents come down with great stories like I think we did broccoli rabe one day, and the resident went upstairs and made like a pasta broccoli rabe and she loved it so much she ran down and it was hoping the farmer was still there and brought it to the farmers and said: Here I just made this! You know, so we're really enjoying the interaction on top of just doing something great and creating food from air and water, you know, and minimal water usage because it just regenerates, we lose a little to the actual produce that we're uptake in some condensation. So, but it's really, you know, air and LED lights that help you know, grow and it's really exciting.
Ron Beres 07:25
Why am I drawing a blank here? What is the filter called on your roof that actually collects the water?
Karen Cusmano 07:29
Solar hydro panel.
Ron Beres 07:31
Can you ask that question? Because I'm curious, is that like a full like, from A to C moment? Like it's fueling the plants that are on the wall? Is that what's going on? Are they taking the water from the solar panels?
Karen Cusmano 07:39
So, we would like that, but I went back to when this the company that creates the hydro panels, they really want us to drink the water, but we aren't going to see it because we feel like that would be a great full circle moment. Wouldn't it be creating our water to what our plants?
Lisa Beres 07:57
Ron Beres 07:58
Oh, for sure. I think that's good.
Lisa Beres 08:00
They just don't want you to Yeah,
Karen Cusmano 08:02
they really want it to be drinking water. Like that's their mission to bring drinking water. So, but we're going to see I mean, we do have some of our buildings like this where you have scenes outside where you can collect water. So, some of our people like well let's collect the water and then bring it in like that. So, we're always.
Lisa Beres 08:19
Like, like a rainwater catchment thing.
Karen Cusmano 08:22
Like what can we do?
Lisa Beres 08:23
Yeah, that is a full circle moment. Wow. Then you'll have a community dinner and then everyone can make food and bring it.
Karen Cusmano 08:30
We've talked about that like you know like with marketing like can they all come down with something that they harvested the basil make some Yeah. Oh, let's have a dinner.
Lisa Beres 08:40
Wouldn't that be nice? Yeah, a monthly dinner.
Ron Beres 08:43
I love it! Is it seasonal like for example at the different vegetables that are picking from your wall? So, like okay, this is lettuce season.
Lisa Beres 08:49
How does it work?
Karen Cusmano 08:51
The residents can I ask for things you know so we do find basil and cilantro are some of the favorites and less but you know there's certain which we're trying to stick to the green LED like not tomatoes we're not doing fruit bearing yet we might want to but they just take longer to grow and this is just so much faster. So yeah, they do so many different things you know, so we guess the residents are always asking our farmer can you get this next time? So, you know, it's varying produce and herbs.
Ron Beres 09:19
That's a good point doesn't lettuce take like a few weeks to grow.
Karen Cusmano 09:22
This is pretty much once a month we're harvesting.
Ron Beres 09:25
Okay, so that must be it.
Karen Cusmano 09:26
Yeah. Harvest once a week so we moved so they go from seedling and then we have the towers they're actually like towers with all these little with the roots go into the water and they just grow from water and like you know no dirt wow no soil, no soil.
Lisa Beres 09:42
Karen Cusmano 09:44
So that helps with the yes not having the soil also. I tell the whole story.
Lisa Beres 09:50
Kind of incredible. Wow. It's amazing technology and like what we can do now, you know, you guys are really innovative with all of this. So, you've that LED is the common space area is that all LED lighting?
Karen Cusmano 10:02
We do LED we very important we find you know the motion sensors to so when you walk into our garage, there'll be on like very low and then as you walk, it'll brighten up you feel like you have superpowers like, brighter as you walk through the garage.
Lisa Beres 10:16
Now that's a really good example we talked about in the last episode of, you know, what are the things that you can do that really aren't going to feel like an inconvenience to you at all, but are going to make a big impact? That's such a great example with the lighting. I think about that a lot in hotels, because people will leave the lights on when they leave the room. And I'm like, why would you do that? I mean, I know you're not paying that bill. But in a way you are because of the cost the hotel more money that they're going to pass on that to you know, the customers so.
Karen Cusmano 10:44
I like the ones that you have to put your room key in. Yeah. You have to go in a hotel. room key in are also lights don't go on? Yeah, I did my first one. I was like, none of the lights work into this. That's for my key in the slot.
Lisa Beres 10:57
Yeah, that's just like common sense.
Karen Cusmano 10:59
You have to do that for someone to shut off the lights when they leave. Yeah.
Lisa Beres 11:03
That's great. And then you've got energy star appliances. You've got Wi Fi thermostats, water optimized toilets and showers. So, you guys like in the umbrella of this eco-friendly amenities. And then we talked last time about the source hydro panels. And you just tell us like really quick again, for someone who didn't tune into that episode. Just really quick what they do.
Karen Cusmano 11:23
Yes, so the shores hydro panels, you know, they're on our roof, and they work through solar. And the solar makes a fan run that actually pulls in just air. And as the air is going over this fan of water vapors are kind of like sucked out onto like, just putting in absorbs water. And the water vapor goes into we actually have a pipe system. So, it just goes into our pipe system and actually is going into our water fountains in our gym. So, it just pipes down to a water fountain in our gym. And we're creating about 1.2 gallons of water a day.
Ron Beres 11:56
And that's filtered water that's also filtered too.
Karen Cusmano 12:02
It's probably filtered too but it's definitely mineralized to make sure it's drinkable. And tastes good. And it's you know, net zero. I mean, it's just water out of air, sun and air.
Ron Beres 12:13
Pretty incredible. And in there, how big is each panel that goes on the roof to take 1.2 gallons. This is giant panel, there's a kind of small.
Karen Cusmano 12:20
We have 15 of them. So, I'm thinking they're not too big. I mean, we have 16 panels and our roof area on that building. It's 108 units that building so we don't have a large roof area.
Ron Beres 12:32
Karen Cusmano 12:35
Yeah, I would have to guess I'd have to go look at the specs again. Yeah,
Ron Beres 12:38
you know, we're really good at with solar in California. But we need to add these tubes. We have some water issues here. So, it'd be nice to incorporate for sure.
Lisa Beres 12:46
Well, are the source hydro panels limited to commercial spaces? Or you're not necessarily commercial? But are they available to just residences, like individual single home? Do you know? I was just curious. Yeah. I've never heard of anyone having this. No, no.
Ron Beres 13:03
If not, it probably will be right.
Karen Cusmano 13:04
Well, I'm sure that they want to be out there. Yeah. And then like, even with water, like we were talking about silly things, what are in like the aerators? Or like low flow? One of the things we've talked about this green leaf and the Sustainable Living, we've actually had residents that they come in, and they're like, oh, take that off. But you know, so we say please don't take off there for a reason. They're going to help and some of these areas now are so well even though it's low flow the area and are actually makes it feel powerful.
Lisa Beres 13:32
You don't notice a difference in power pressure. Well, we have a Moen, I think it's a showerhead. It has this, their patented technology, I think built in where it feels so strong, but it is actually a low flow, but you cannot tell it's a rainfall. What do you call it? Rainfall? Those big round ones? Right? Yeah, that style. And it's like a luxurious experience, you would never know that that had a low flow aerator in it.
Karen Cusmano 13:56
I mean, just talk about toilets, you know, the fun things, but like, just the flushometer. You know, we've looked into this thing where it'll stop leaks. And I did some research before we were doing this, or we do we want to spend all this money and leaks, you could lose about approximately like 90 gallons of water with just a leak in a toilet. And you know, the EPA if you go to their site, and epa.gov says that we lose about 1 trillion gallons of water in household leaks. 1 trillion. I can't. But that's what it says, if you think approximately 90 gallons day if you have a decent sized leak in your faucet and all you have to do is you know, go on and figure out like it's probably your flapper. You just go on and do it yourself. You know, things are fun.
Lisa Beres 14:40
Yeah, that's really interesting. And leaks obviously that's going to create a whole other slew of problems with potential mold and right all kinds of issues.
Karen Cusmano 14:49
And to think that you have to ask someone like report a leak because you know, some of the residents aren't paying for their water. Some of them are but so if you're paying for it, you think you would say hey, I have a leak.
Lisa Beres 14:59
Karen Cusmano 14:59
You Now I can see the people that aren't paying for it. So it's little things that you just and again, this would be like a little blurb that monthly, I would send out to a resident and say, Hey, did you know that you could waste 90 gallons of water, you know, with a leak, and then the impact on the whole, you know, so little reminders, you know, micro reminders here and there, I think are key to everything that we do. And that's part of an amenity, I would say that we give is the awareness and we're going to help you, you want to do the right thing. You want to be sustainability focused, and you want to do the right thing. And we're going to do what we can to help you with amenities. Plus, a little awareness, hope we're not getting too annoying with the but we think they're cute, you know, we tried to get like.
Lisa Beres 15:38
You guys, you had like an ice cream sandwich party and one of your community spaces on a day that there was like, Hey, let's lower the temperature. Because, you know, there's a high usage at this moment, but we're going to have an ice cream sandwich party, you know, so you definitely do things to make it.
Karen Cusmano 15:54
We tried. And we were hoping at that point, we actually have like, you can actually see, because we have the interval data on our meters, like, we want it to be able to show our residents and we're going to do it someday come down and have the ice cream social, which we did, but we won't be able to show a screen, look at what we're doing. We went from whatever, you know, 10,000 kilowatts now and you could actually see it go from red to green, and we wanted to be able to show that impact, we are going to do it. That's great. Really, what kind of impact would that be like they're sitting there they have an ice cream we've asked everyone, you know, the state had put out with utility puts out a demand response, saying that the grid is taxed right now, when the grid is the most tax, it's the dirtiest, the co2, greenhouse gas emissions, co2 emissions are worse. So, if we can just all shift the power at that time, and then just use our power, so we really want to be able to that's where they're going to really get the impact when they see looking at what we just did. We went from here, and they're going to see it on a screen. So that's what we're looking for to do.
Lisa Beres 16:53
Yeah, just believing I know. Yeah.
Karen Cusmano 16:55
You need to see, I really think people need to see it to believe like, Look, right now. And I care. So, we're excited to be able to do that next summer.
Ron Beres 17:05
Wow, impressive. Well, many of your buildings are rated A Walker's paradise, which sounds amazing. But what does that actually mean?
Karen Cusmano 17:14
So, Walker's paradise means that, you know, someone could walk, go outside, and they don't have to get in the car. And they can, they'll have access to we have, you know, mass transit near us. We have light rails, we have bicycles. You know, we work with different companies. And we actually have bike racks so someone can rent a bicycle. And then they can take it to another rack, like maybe near the port authority or places to get on the train or the ferries, restaurants, supermarkets. Everything is right there, where you are able to walk out the door and everything's within really close, walkable.
Ron Beres 17:48
Well, hey, Karen true story, I was just talking to Lisa. So, we need a vacation where we can go somewhere, and then have everything right there. We can relax, don't need to drive anywhere far, but just enjoy all the amenities of this place. But it sounds like we just described Veris residential.
Lisa Beres 18:06
Yeah, what's more than half of your properties we would consider that have a Walker's paradise. Right?
Karen Cusmano 18:12
Lisa Beres 18:13
Karen Cusmano 18:14
Probably even more. Wow, right now.
Lisa Beres 18:16
Yeah, that's really important. And it's fun. It's great. And it gets outside and you're getting the fresh air.
Karen Cusmano 18:20
You know, we're dabbling in one of our buildings. And I feel like this is something that like some people hate Some people love the scooters. However, it's scooter, just you have to have a doc you the softest scooter where you leave our property, you can throw it down the street anywhere you want. It's a scooter where you know, some of our residents again, you know, you might not have the room for a bicycle or some so they can go outside, get on the scooter, and then maybe go we'll put another rack where they have to put the screws back, but it'll be near the ferry station or the past station or some sort of mass transit.
Lisa Beres 18:50
Karen Cusmano 18:51
That's yeah, so we're piling it inside at one building.
Lisa Beres 18:54
That's really cool. Why wouldn't they want a scooter? That seems? You know, especially in New York City, I would think that it's
Karen Cusmano 19:01
Well with the bicycles and the scooters, you're afraid the liability of someone going? Scary? And Yeah. People are crazy on the streets.
Ron Beres 19:13
Oh, I have this stat here. I just realized 70% of your wholly owned residential properties, have a Walker's score of 85 or more. Right, I guess that's there's the scoring mechanism. So, 70% or more. Wow, that's great.
Lisa Beres 19:25
That's great. Yeah, thank you. Now that's really cool. Do you see a lot of electric bikes in your area? We see so many here.
Karen Cusmano 19:32
Yeah, I don't know electric. But we do have a lot of bicycles. And like I said, we actually have bicycle storage in our building. So, if people want their own, I mean, House25. It's a 750-unit building. We have 360 bike rack storage areas. So, go out to you know, your apartment, right? Yeah, but we do also have the ones that people could just go outside and go outside our building, grab a bicycle ride into another station and drive off.
Lisa Beres 19:59
So how do they get that? Did they have like a combo that all the residents get for a card?
Karen Cusmano 20:03
You would sign up for it? It would be a service.
Lisa Beres 20:05
Karen Cusmano 20:06
Not through the company that you know.
Lisa Beres 20:08
They have to pay for that. I'm just curious.
Karen Cusmano 20:11
We have a relationship with Citi Bike. Yeah. So, you'll see a lot of people driving around, like bicycles and...
Lisa Beres 20:17
Yeah, but that's like an extra service they pay for is that included?
Karen Cusmano 20:21
They would do it on their own. Oh, we will let them know that it's out there. And it's available. Oh, gotcha. Okay, right outside our building and they sign up nice. Get a code to use it.
Lisa Beres 20:30
Okay. Very cool. Very different. I know. We're in California. We don't we drive. We like our cars.
Karen Cusmano 20:40
It will be EV soon.
Lisa Beres 20:42
Yeah that's right. Yeah. 2030. Right. So, Karen, when we think of green living, a lot of people think of it being kind of crunchy granola, but you're making these eco-friendly features. Sounds so high tech, are there any non-glamorous aspects to the sustainable features that you offer?
Karen Cusmano 20:57
You know, the biggest thing is trash, right? About trash. And we are piloting at a couple of our buildings composting, nothing new. Right. But you think about it in a multifamily situation, we have enough trouble just getting regular garbage taken care of just going in the right tutor they put in cardboard in the right place, you know, so we're taking on composting, hoping that, you know, some of our residents will enjoy this. And, you know, people worry about the smell, and will it attract, you know, things that we don't want to go to lunch, but we feel like it's very important. Probably, I would say, you know, think about different statistics you look at like 50% of trash is probably compostable. So, we feel like it's really important and to give our residents the ability to do this. So, there will be a bin in our yard regular garbage, we're going to try to decorate it and make it really cool area. And the resident will keep you know, have a little small however they want. And we'll give them ideas and tips of where to go to buy the container to store their scraps. And you know, see how that goes. I mean, we're excited about it, we and pupils another full circle, we do have like community farms, other than the urban towers that we talked about. We do have some like green roofs and we have community farms with some of our roofs. So, it's like, wouldn�t it be great if someday we could take the dirt that was created from the composting from our buildings and lay back and like use it? Oh, yeah, no. Oh, he's looking at full circle moments.
Lisa Beres 22:29
Yeah, things like that. That's really cool.
Karen Cusmano 22:32
She's not glamorous.
Lisa Beres 22:34
Yeah, it's not glamorous. But it's so important. And I noticed that you have recycling for batteries and the mercury lamps and things like that, which is so important, you know, because like we are big recyclers here. And I mean, Ron, and I laugh, our recycle bin is like three times bigger than our actual trash bin, we have two bins and the recycle bin is always like the overflowing one.
Ron Beres 22:53
That's the big one. I always struck me a long time ago when I heard that printing cartridges, for example, take 450 years to biodegrade, right. And so, I had this giant container probably had like 100 printing cartridges from all these years, I never took it into the local store, stop doing this recycle program. So, I held it and held it. And finally, just I went to Best Buy. And I was like, yes, they can do it as a little further away from my home. I don't normally go there as often. So, I was really proud of myself. I was being very Veris Residential like.
Lisa Beres 23:22
Yeah, no, it's true. Because a lot of people will just say, Oh, forget it, you know, I don't know where to go. I don't know where to drop this stuff off. And they'll just throw it in the trash out of convenience for them and an awareness like I don't know about there. But we have household hazardous waste drop offs, but they're not necessarily close. Yeah, they're hard to find people don't know where they are. And we all end up with this E waste and all this kind of waste that we don't a lot of people don't know what to do it. They know not to put it in the recycle bin. So, they end up throwing it in the trash and yeah, batteries. So, all the stuff just ends up in the landfill. You know, for sure.
Ron Beres 23:55
Well, Karen, various residential, the website actually talks about bio diversity. And when I think of an apartment building, I just envision a concrete building. Right. I'm wondering what bio diversity means to Veris Residential.
Karen Cusmano 24:11
So, I think we mentioned some of the green roofs and then the urban towers, the plantation we also just recently so excited we got our first two beehives.
Lisa Beres 24:21
Oh, wow. Fantastic.
Karen Cusmano 24:24
We're really excited about this. We're going to have like 70,000 bees.
Ron Beres 24:28
Oh, wow. And yeah, each hives is 35,000?
Karen Cusmano 24:32
Yeah, that's what they tell me. You know, I need to check the stats, but that's what I've been told. And at the building so they can go I think they said about three-mile radius, they'll leave and they'll go around our properties. So, we do have some community garden we do have a community garden where those bees will be so we're hoping they'll go out and pollinate and then guess we get a lot of information with the pollinate. You know, when they pollinate, we come back and they bring and we'll be able to give our residents honey and you One of my community managers when I told her about this, she said, Karen, do you know my family are beekeepers like that's what we've done? Oh, wow. And she told me this great story. And I'm sure people know about this. But she said that when she moved to New Jersey, her allergies were like crazy, like our hay fever. And she was great. And her father said, we need a beehive. So as the guest, you know, she started eating the honey from the beehive and the allergies went away.
Lisa Beres 25:23
Wow, haven't heard of that? Wow.
Karen Cusmano 25:25
So, it's exciting things, but it does a lot. So, we're really excited about I'm hoping to docile bees. That's what we've been told.
Lisa Beres 25:33
Not killer, killer bees.
Karen Cusmano 25:36
So, you know, we want these great things that we're doing to be well received. So you know, we let the residents know about it, we're going to make it like a community that we're going to put a camera and watch the bee hives and watch the main the queen bee and make it be a community type, you know, experience and then we'll be able to give out the honey as gifts. You know, like as a resident gift, moving gifts, like once it starts producing honey you can make, I think chaps like you know, everything balm and all that stuff. And yeah, we're really excited. And then, you know, we did mention at the top, you know, one of our properties and a few other properties. We're going to be doing the towers, the vertical vegetation towers, we have a green roof.
Ron Beres 26:17
Sounds like you have an edible building.
Lisa Beres 26:21
One Stop Shop, do your Christmas shopping. Also beeswax candles, right? Those are really good. And there's so much you can do there. Yeah.
Karen Cusmano 26:30
So, I mean, it's important to you know, so biodiversity to us is like creating, like, I guess regenerating. Like I get, you know, when people say about sustainability, I'm at a point where I start thinking we're more getting towards regenerate. Like we need to reuse recycle regenerate.
Ron Beres 26:49
Lisa Beres 26:50
Karen Cusmano 26:51
Not enough sometimes I'm starting to think so.
Lisa Beres 26:55
Where will the beehives go? Will they be like,
Karen Cusmano 26:57
so, they're on a roof setback, you know, so they're away from our residents. Okay, you know, and then the beekeeper will calm everyone's while and check on them. And then, you know, we're concerned. Here we go again, about the cold weather. How will our bees handle this season? And apparently, there's something they all get together and they go around the queen and they create, like, they make it very warm in there. So Oh, really? They said, like up to 90 degrees? You know, again, I have to wow, like they keep it warm. Wow.
Lisa Beres 27:26
Yeah. They're kind of incredible little creatures. Obviously. They're responsible for 1/3 of our food through their pollination. Yeah. Yeah.
Ron Beres 27:33
And what was that set to like that as far as like being an indestructible animal or being right, there's like, they'd be one of the top five insects or animals that would survive in a catastrophe?
Lisa Beres 27:45
They went to they say they would even survive. I don't know, nuclear. Is that right?
Ron Beres 27:51
I think I've heard that. So, I don't know how true that is. Cockroaches, probably.
Karen Cusmano 27:58
Yeah, when we develop, we really like to think about the whole community like that we're going into, and when we did the House25 We actually built a school. So, there's a school connected to our building, because Oh, wow, for school in the city. And we worked with the town and for zoning. And so, we really try to think about what we're doing, and how we're transforming the whole community that it's going into and thinking about it holistically. And not just about Veris.
Lisa Beres 28:21
The school is attached. Yeah. Oh, wow. The kids don't even have to get on transportation.
Karen Cusmano 28:28
I don't know if there's a you know, way to get in from there. But it's right up against our building. And, you know, so when we think you know, biodiversity it's creating with the bees and the pollinating and the green roofs and you're just creating a community and, you know,
Ron Beres 28:43
Finding employment to teachers, beekeepers,
Lisa Beres 28:45
Beekeepers, and your hydroponic tower gardens. I read also row, non-GMO, chemical free lettuce and herbs. So that's really incredible, too. You don't need to be spraying all those pesticides when they're grown like that inside. So, the various residential tagline is properties, people and the planet. And we didn't really talk about the people part that much thus far Veris Residential actually scores very well, in the social aspect of its public ratings. What does this mean for your relationship with your residents?
Karen Cusmano 29:20
So, I would say for us, you know, we say properties, people, planet people, we couldn't do any of this without people. And it is so important. I'm thinking the awareness. So, educating the people is very important to us, our employees and our residents. I think making a community where we just recently did an event with St. Jude, like a 5k. And we asked our residents to join us like, we want you to be part of what we're doing and make things easy for them to be you know, if they want to be philanthropic and do things like we're trying to make it easy for them to do that. So, we work with Jersey City, the Boys and Girls Club and we donated land to them to actually create a garden. So, it's about being part of the community, and, you know, diversity and our suppliers. And it's making sure that just making it better and for everybody, and you know, our community and the people in our community are very important to us. And our residents are part of that. And the people who are not our residents. So, you know, just doing events, we do Habitat for Humanity, love it, you know, I think I was battling one day. So, you don't even realize like these little and it makes you feel so good. Like when I leave there, I'm like, I feel so good. I can't wait to do it again. And we try to breed that, you know, bring our residents into it. And so that is really, really important to us to be a holistic. We're just not your landlord.
Lisa Beres 30:40
Yeah, that's fantastic. I know, you guys give back a lot and plant trees as well, four times a year, I believe, which is so great. And you know, I was thinking about Ron's mom and dad live in Florida. And they're retired and they live in like multifamily housing there as well. And the community is like amazing. And they make it look so fun. They're always doing something your dad's playing croquet, your mom's doing the book club, they're doing this, they're they always have something going on. They're like more active than ever. And I was thinking like, as you're speaking how incredibly important that is not just as you age, but even say, a single person who's you know, renting one of your properties who's like, hey, I really want to feel a sense of community, and not feel isolated. They can go and take part in these events. And it's really neat, because why limit that to like, a certain age group.
Karen Cusmano 31:30
And also, sometimes when we do events, like we say, we're going to throw in a little sustainability, but they won't even know like, we've done event. This was an internal event we did with us. And so, we have to do with the residents where we had a company, she's a shoemaker, and she uses grapes. And in Italy, uses grapes and stuff. So, to make leather out of grapes and skins and stuff. Wow. So, we did like this event, where she talked about sustainability of making these shoes. And then we had wine from this great vineyard that was also sustainable. And you know, it was a fun event. And nobody knows. So, they were also a learning while they were there.
Lisa Beres 32:03
Karen Cusmano 32:05
We tried when we do things, you know, we did an event with, you know, the World Wildlife World Wildlife Foundation. And we did like a panda. You know, we did a zoo thing where our residents got to sit and you know, go out through the zoo and learn about, you know, what, saving and how they were saving species and stuff like so we try to do things fun, but then also little educational awareness element to things.
Lisa Beres 32:29
Yeah. Always have like a little sustainable angle. Yeah. Do any of your properties have any kind of restaurant or coffee shop or anything like that on site?
Karen Cusmano 32:38
Yeah. So, most of them have a retail portion on the lower level. Oh, that try to get, you know whether we've had some yoga or some daycare, restaurants. So, we try to make sure again, back to that worker's paradise, that it's all right there. When you leave the building children to daycare, you could go do yoga, you could go get your coffee. So yes, we definitely have that in our lower levels of our buildings.
Lisa Beres 33:04
It's very different than west coast. It's just a different we don't have although I'm starting to see more and more multifamily kind of units pop up in that concept is becoming more popular here. But it really wasn't even not that long ago. You know, you had just single-family homes and condos and townhomes and a lot of that. I know people really like feeling that, that everything's there when I have to get in the car and drive 30 minutes to drop the kid off at school or, you know, get a coffee or whatever.
Ron Beres 33:35
Or visit a beehive.
Lisa Beres 33:37
Go to bee hives, grab your lettuce, lettuce. Exactly. Well, this is so awesome. Karen, thank you. Thank you for being with us. And remember friends. Sustainability is the lens through which we view every decision, every action every day. You can learn more about Veris Residential and use their property locator tool to find the greenest rental property on the block at Verisresidential.com. And that's verisresidential.com.
Ron Beres 34:09
Excellent. We'll have all the links in the show notes at ronandlisa.com/podcast. And if you missed part one of this conversation, you're not going to want to be sure to tune into last week's podcast where we discussed how to rent an environmentally friendly apartment. And until next time, get ready to up level your health and heal our planet. See you then. Bye.
Lisa Beres 34:31
Bye Karen. Thank you.
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