Posts Tagged ‘Energy Efficiency’
With rising water rates, persistent drought conditions, and a growing U.S. population, water conservation is becoming more important every day. Water and sewerage costs have doubled in one of every four municipalities over the last 12 years, which can hurt property managers today and in the future.
Did you know that March 2013 was the 5th driest year nationally since 1895? According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), 50 percent of the U.S. continues to fight drought conditions. While conditions are improving, about seven percent of the contiguous U.S. was experiencing severe to extreme drought as of the end of September 2013. At the same time, other utility costs have increased faster than inflation, creating a need for conservation and improving efficiencies.
The time is right for apartment communities to begin—or improve on their existing—water conservation plans.
While implementing water conservation practices may sound like a very involved process, it doesn’t have to be. Typically, a few modifications with existing fixtures and systems will yield significant savings. A wealth of products and new technologies designed to reduce water consumption are readily available on the market today, helping properties save money while reducing their environmental impact.
Here are four easy water conservation tips to help you get started:
Tip 1: Go Low-Flow to Save Water
A number of plumbing products on the market today use less water but still get the job of rinsing, cleansing, and flushing done. The result is a large water savings which trickles down to a better bottom line.
Here are some smart solutions to save water in an apartment that are fast and easy replacements for your maintenance teams:
- Replacing a standard 2.5 gallon per minute (GPM) kitchen faucet aerator with a 1.5 GPM saves 40 percent
- Screwing in a 1.0 GPM aerator onto a 2.2 GPM bathroom faucet saves 54 percent and they are often $1 each or less
- Installing low-flow showerheads (2.0 GPM or lower) and low-flush toilets (1.28 gallons per flush or lower) save up to 50 percent in water consumption and your residents won’t notice a difference
Tip 2: Adjust Water Volume in Older Toilets
Older toilets that still function can be retrofitted with a dual flush system that reduces the amount of water used for liquids and it is less expensive than replacing the whole toilet. Dual flush systems work best with 1.6- to 3.5 gallon per flush (GFP) toilets but can also be used on 1.28 GPF.
Tip 3: Smart Landscaping Conserves Water
By installing smart controllers, those that detect moisture and track local weather then change watering patterns, will keep landscapes looking good while reducing consumption.
Commercial Evapotranspiration Technology (ET)-based controllers are basically a thermostat for an apartment property’s sprinkler system. ET systems tell the water source when to turn on and off based on current conditions so that overwatering in minimized or even eliminated.
The beauty of installing smart controllers is that they are typically an even swap for the old controller. No additional upgrade of the irrigation system is necessary, and the change-out can be done rather quickly.
Tip 4: Look for WaterSense-Certified Products
Water conservation products certified by WaterSense®, a partnership program administered by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), are readily available and are certified to use less water while not affecting efficacy.
The WaterSense program was launched to provide businesses and consumers with easy ways to save water, as both a label for products and a resource to people. To get a better idea of what the impact of upgrading to WaterSense products could be for your property, check out the WaterSense Water Savings Calculator. After filling in a couple of fields, the calculator will determine how much water, electricity, greenhouse gas emissions, and money can be saved by replacing your current fixtures with WaterSense certified fixtures.
Apartment communities have a great opportunity to conserve water by making a few small tweaks in their buying by seeking out water conservation products. Properties will not only save on their utility bills but will leave more water for future generations. It’s a win-win!
|Elizabeth Whited | Company Website | LinkedIn Connect |
Elizabeth is the Operations Coordinator at the Rent Rite Directory. She has written educational articles for multifamily magazines and Real Estate websites to help Property Managers and Owners improve their properties, and reduce crime in their communities.
By Sophia Hartkopf and Melissa Buckley, HMG, a TRC Company
Rising energy prices not only affect us behind the wheel, they also take a toll on our utility bills at home. Property owners and tenants alike are experiencing increasing utility bills and looking for ways to save money, without compromising comfort. Upgrading your property is one way to decrease energy consumption, lower utility bills, and increase tenant comfort and satisfaction.
The Energy Upgrade California™ – San Diego Multifamily Program assists property owners and managers alike in making energy efficiency upgrades to their properties, through cash incentives and technical assistance. The program is made possible by your local utility, the San Diego Gas & Electric® Company (SDG&E). The program is implemented by HMG, a TRC Company, which specializes in providing energy efficiency programs to the multifamily sector.
Multifamily properties containing four or more units are eligible for participation in Energy Upgrade California™ – San Diego Multifamily. Currently, the program offers two paths to savings: 1) Multifamily Energy Efficiency Rebates (MFEER), and 2) Whole Building incentives. The MFEER path provides rebates for individual change-outs. Under MFEER, participants may be eligible for up to $500 per unit in incentives. The Whole Building path provides incentives for comprehensive retrofits, allows for flexible, project-specific solutions to achieve the greatest energy and costs savings, and offers rebates ranging from $550 to $1,500 per unit.
Property Evaluation and Participation
Prior to installing new equipment, interested parties must contact HMG to complete a property evaluation form. Together with the property owner, HMG will determine whether your property is a good fit for the MFEER or Whole Building paths, or both.
To obtain Whole Building incentives, you must hire a program trained Home Energy Rating System (HERS) Rater to perform an assessment of existing building conditions and determine energy upgrades. HERS Raters assist property owners in determining which energy upgrades will likely provide the greatest energy savings. Eligible energy measures include, but are not limited to: replacing windows; upgrading heating cooling and ventilations systems; upgrading domestic hot water heaters; and adding wall and roof insulation. Building owners may hire any licensed contractor(s) to install the upgrade measures. As a final step, and to offer quality assurance to participants, this same HERS Rater will verify that energy measures have been installed to the appropriate specifications. Once verification is completed, you will receive incentives and begin to enjoy the resulting energy savings.
Orange Gardens in Poway, CA, owned by Affirmed Housing Group, is currently going through the Energy Upgrade California ™ – San Diego Multifamily Program. It is a six-building property with a total of fifty-two units, built in 1978. Each building is being retrofitted with more efficient heating, cooling, and domestic hot water systems, better performing dual paned windows, and a solar thermal system to offset the demand of the domestic hot water system. By installing these upgrades, the property is expected to meet an estimated 31 percent energy improvement. The estimated incentive to Orange Gardens from the Energy Upgrade California ™ – San Diego Multifamily Program is $62,400.
Cost and Financing
Energy Upgrade California™ – San Diego Multifamily is designed to offset a portion of the up-front costs of energy upgrades. Some property owners may be eligible for additional financial assistance through Safe-Bidco, SDG&E® On Bill Financing, or the National Housing Trust Community Development Fund.
Safe-Bidco is available to California small businesses, some landlords (five units minimum), and non-profit organizations. The borrower must be the project’s owner, operator and beneficiary. Each project submitted must have an analysis of its energy impact. The loans can be used for any project that: conserves energy equal to 15% of normal usage; manages load; retrofits; adds energy-efficient measures in existing facilities; or to acquire certain equipment for a new facility. For more information, visit safe-bidco.com.
Interest-free financing is also available through the SDG&E® On-Bill Financing program. This option helps commercial customers and multi-family property owners pay for energy-efficient upgrades through monthly installments on their SDG&E® bills. Eligible customers may borrow up to $100,000 per meter for the installation of qualifying equipment with a maximum five year payback (certain equipment is subject to a shorter payback period). Loans terms are calculated on the simple payback so the monthly installment is offset by energy saved. For more information, contact the SDG&E® Energy Savings Center at 1-800-644-6133 or online at sdge.com/obf.
The National Housing Trust Community Development Fund (NHTCDF) is a non-profit Community Development Financial Institution dedicated to the preservation of affordable housing. As part of its lending activities, NHTCDF makes loans to support energy retrofits of multi-family affordable housing in order to decrease costs for owners and residents and help ensure properties remain affordable for the families who need them. NHTCDF funds can be used for the hard and soft costs related to energy retrofits. NHTCDF expects to be repaid through a combination of rebates and cash flow from the property. Interest rates and loan terms are considered on a case by case basis, depending on the scope of work, expected energy savings, available collateral and other types of security. For more information, contact Josh Earn, NHTCDF Program Manager at email@example.com or (202) 333-8931 ext. 134.
Take advantage of the Energy Upgrade California™ – San Diego Multifamily program to start reducing your utility bills today! Incentives are distributed on a first come, first served basis. For more information please contact HMG at 1-866-352-7457, firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our web site at www.h-m-g.com/multifamily/sandiego/.
To learn more about this program and other ways you can save energy at your property, visit us at the Going Green workshop at the Income Property Management Expo on May 7th at 11:00 am in Ontario, California.
Click here to Pre-Register for the Income Property Management Expo Online!
By: Nick Frantz
It seems that everyone is taking steps to go a little green. So what’s it mean for property managers? Is it worth your time and effort to promote a green agenda?
For individuals, going green is a personal choice. For some it comes down to situational decisions, “Should I buy my regular detergent or this green one?” For those more committed to the cause it’s a lifestyle choice. And still for others, the choices are financially driven, “I’ll buy my regular cleaning products because they cost less and this hybrid car because it uses less gas.” Participation spans all ages. But the 20–35 year age group is the most committed… and it strongly influences their decision making.
To Play or Not to Play?
It all shakes out to this: yes, the green movement is a trend. It’s a cause. But it’s not a fad. Businesses have seized the opportunity by producing fit-the-need products. Federal, state and local governments are responding with increasing regulatory requirements and restrictions. Green is a factor that affects purchase decisions… so it stands to reason that it plays a role in rental and retention decisions, too.
Here are five practical ideas to put a little green to work on your property.
1. Decide on your light bulbs. In 2014 you will be forced to make a light bulb decision. That’s when the federal government’s ban on incandescent bulbs goes into effect. For standard fixtures, your new choices are CFL (compact fluorescent) bulbs or LED (light-emitting diode) bulbs. Both deliver huge energy savings over their old fashioned predecessor. LEDs are superior in energy usage and quality of light, but are much more expensive to purchase.
2. Expand on recycling opportunities. In most municipalities, recyclable trash is picked up separately from regular trash. Although often voluntary, in some areas it’s mandatory. You may already have separate bins for recyclable trash. Are there enough of them? Are they convenient?
I know a managed community whose residents have curb-side pickup, but they take their paper products and aluminum cans to centrally-located bins for pick up. The vendor pays for the recyclable paper and cans and the funds go into the HOA. . It’s a voluntary program and nearly everyone participates.
3. Ask your utility companies to help. Contact all your utility companies and ask for onsite assessments. Some may charge for the service. However fees are usually reasonable and may qualify you for discounts on upgrades or repairs. They also should have energy-saving tips they can pass on to you, or available on their websites. Pull the ones that apply to your property and publish your own tip list.
4. Increase communications, but conserve your paper. It’s time—past time—to make a serious reduction in your paper communications. A message notification service can do the job better and save you loads of time and money, too. Look for one that sends voice and text messages to cell phones and also to email.
5. Foster a green perception. Lots of brands tout green qualities. But the ones that carry strong green reputations do a better job at fostering the perception. Make that work for you. Whenever appropriate, communicate your green efforts.
- “When you’re in the common areas, please use the recycle trash cans for your empty soda cans.”
- “Now that it’s getting warmer, please adjust your thermostat when you leave, so your air conditioner isn’t running up your electric bill while you’re gone.”
- “Thank you for your positive responses to our messaging system. Last month alone it reduced our paper usage by more than 800 sheets. That’s nearly two reams!”
None of these ideas are large-scale initiatives. They’re small changes that collectively make a big difference. They also foster the perception that you’re proactively doing your part. Plus, you just might find that your efforts add some green to your bottom line.
For more information regarding resident communication solutions please visit www.onecallnow.com, or call (877) 698-3262 to find out how our text, email and voice messages can work for your community.
Nick Frantz is the National Sales Manager for Property Management Solutions at One Call Now, where he has worked since March 2011. He specializes in Property Management solutions – commercial and residential – assisting in communications between property managers and staff/residents. Nick holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Miami University.