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ECO Modern Flats, Fayetteville’s premiere living quarters, held an ECO-Mob on Saturday, April 27.  Guests helped themselves to sweets from Rick’s Bakery and toured the top-notch facility, which has filled to near capacity since the first building, ECO 1, opened in January 2011.

“We’ve really had a wonderful community response,” said Jeremy Hudson, a member of the MC3 Development Group that is responsible for the living community along with several upcoming developments in Fayetteville. “Currently, we’ve got a waiting list, which is really fun to see.  We believed that people wanted a complex with a better design, more efficient use of space, and we believed they would embrace the sustainable side of it too.”

For the uninitiated, ECO Modern Flats are Arkansas’ first multi-family community registered for LEED green building certification.  LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design and was developed by the US Green Building Council.  The program takes into account all aspects of a building, from design to maintenance.

ECO began with a phased opening in January 2011 when the first building, ECO 1, came online. According to Hudson, they used this building as a guinea pig to work out the kinks for the next three, which opened in the following months. He says the real inspiration for the apartment complex came from his own experience after he graduated from John Brown University and couldn’t find an apartment to his liking.

“There just weren’t a lot of rent-by-choice products out there,” he said. “Most places were made for people who were in college or just had to rent. No one offered great design and great commodities.”

ECO does both.  The apartment community features a modern design aesthetic that is appealing and efficient. The apartments even feature a “transformer” media library wall that allows people to watch TV in their living area or their bedroom.

Another important part of ECO is the emphasis on health.  All paints used in the facility are free of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs).  The building designers chose non-toxic building materials that release little to no VOCs into indoor air. Also, natural cleaning products are providing by A Splash of Green, a locally owned online green products store.  The complex is also smoke-free.

For those who love the sustainable lifestyle, ECO offers everything from low-flow faucets to dual-flush toilets. Exterior walls use closed cell insulation that reduces noise and keeps apartments warm.  Rooftop solar panels power the hot water system.  Low-E windows keep rooms at a comfortable temperature.  Energy Star certified appliances ensure that individuals keep their carbon footprint to a minimum.

Outside, a rainwater harvesting system collects water runoff from the roofs of the buildings in freestanding cisterns.  This water irrigates flowerbeds and the community gardens.  Native and drought-tolerant trees, shrubs, flowers, and grasses line buildings.  Besides increasing the beauty of the area, they also provide food for native birds and butterflies.

Fayetteville citizens may remember the aged and worn look of the apartment complex a few years ago. When Hudson and his associates purchased the property, they knew some things had to be done to create a community where people wanted to live.

When Hudson first toured the facility, he noticed water running out of the gutters even though it hadn’t rain for days.  Upon further inspection, he found out that the previous owners had to run sprinklers on the roof since there was only ¾” insulation separating the concrete above from the rooms below.  The HVAC systems couldn’t handle the pressure so the water was used to cool down the buildings.  This was just one of many challenges they faced during the development.

“When we came in, we looked at all the problems and found the most logical and economical way to upgrade everything was to focus on sustainable living,” said Hudson. “It made economic sense and we believe in being good stewards of the environment.”

According to Hudson, their group is developing several other green living properties around town. He credited Mikel Lolley, of Earth Day NWA and Treadwell Properties, as being a pioneer for the green property boom in Fayetteville.

“Mikel pioneered the way to redevelop properties and make them sustainable,” said Hudson. “He deserves a lot of credit. There was no real precedent besides him. Had Mikel not done that, we probably couldn’t have done this.”

To learn more about ECO Modern Flats, visit: www.ecomodernflats.com.

Kody Ford