Sustainability. Energy efficient. Water-saving. These are the watch words of our eco-conscious era. While there is the macro goal of helping to impact climate change, many tenants and building owners appreciate the more micro goals of lowering costs and supporting a healthier living environment.
More and more new builds are incorporating sustainable building practices, and despite the myth of high costs, new multifamily properties are green from the get-go. Often the cost difference is negligible, and developers have found that green design, improved ventilation and energy efficient features can really help fill units during lease-up.
But What About Older Buildings?
Owners and property managers are seeing that it pays to convert older buildings into greener buildings, and it can be a profit centre rather than a cost centre. In the US, Fannie Mae reports that on average, “a commercial building wastes 30% of its energy consumption. By transforming multifamily investment properties into green institutional assets, you can earn back that 30% plus all of the financial and environmental benefits that come along with being environmentally responsibly and savvy.”
Green as You Go
Going green doesn’t have to be all or nothing. There are changes you can make, bit-by-bit, that will make a big difference over time. Replacing equipment in increments, changing habits, and attracting green-minded tenants are all ways to reduce your energy consumption and lower greenhouse gas emissions.
Upgrade to Low-Flow Toilets and Shower Heads
Toilets use more water than anything else in our homes. If you’re running a multifamily complex or building that uses traditional toilets, using something like WaterSense products can likely save you at least 20% of water use. The EPA says: “By replacing old, inefficient flushometer-valve toilets with WaterSense labeled models, a 10-story office building with 1,000 occupants could save nearly 1.2 million gallons of water and nearly $10,000 per year.
Opt for Energy Efficient Appliances
Upgrade unit appliances in your property with energy efficient ovens, fridges, washers and dryers, Sure, it’s a little extra money for energy efficient appliances, but if potential tenants see how these features can help them save on utility bills, as well as be eco-friendly, it’s an added detail that can go a long way to getting that lease signed. And, upgrades for existing tenants can help secure renewals.
Work towards getting rid of paperwork. Instead, offer online rent payments, email account statements, and building notifications and alerts through any mobile device. Not only will you save on paper and printing costs, it makes work more productive and efficient, and far less error prone.
Rethink Landscaping & Gardening
For many Multifamily companies, landscaping might be little more than an afterthought, and it really shouldn’t be. A traditional “manicured lawn” requires constant care and costly inputs in the form of maintenance time and labour costs, lawn care products and water. To add insult to injury, the average landscape gets replaced every few years. If grass is a must, then look for more resilient low-water types.
When Independence Plaza, a 186-unit affordable housing complex in California replaced labour- and water-intensive lawn with a no-mow landscape featuring sheet mulch and low-water native plants, maintenance costs dropped by $12,000 annually.
If you have the room, create a community garden program where residents opt-in, plant their own greenery and agree to maintain it. Choose a place that is accessible, with moderate sunlight, and provide the garden bedding for raised, container, or ground-level gardens. Not only does this allow tenants to grow flowers, herbs and vegetables, it creates a real lifestyle feel for your property.
How Property Vista Helps
We can help you implement the systems and processes to renter satisfaction and lower costs. Property Vista helps you automate so many everyday tasks and enables online rent payments – another tenant pleaser. Be sure to check out pricing and schedule a demo.