Seeing Green: Cut the Costs of Inefficient Multi-Unit Residential Buildings - Property Vista

November 16, 2017

Seeing Green: Cut the Costs of Inefficient Multi-Unit Residential Buildings

In the property management world, improving tenant retention and minimizing expenses are pretty high on the priority list. That’s why firms that handle multi-unit residential buildings (MURBs) are well advised to look for eco-friendly cost-cutting opportunities.

Most MURBs were built a few decades ago, when energy efficiency wasn’t a priority. By today’s modern standards, they’re poorly insulated and insufficiently air sealed, and feature outdated systems for heating, ventilation and hot water. Not only do they bleed money on a daily basis, but they’re also costly to maintain – the older the system, the less accessible the parts. When you’re dealing with several units per building, those costs add up quickly.

Having inefficient buildings doesn’t just jack up the direct expenses for property managers. Renters don’t like dealing with drafty units or faulty appliances. And unhappy tenants don’t tend to stick around.

So, what’s a property manager to do about inefficient operations in MURBs? The answer is simple: Go green. Here are three eco-friendly options to improve your buildings’ efficiency while satisfying residents and protecting your bottom line.


Add Building Overcladding

Recently, six high-rise residential apartment buildings underwent extensive building envelope retrofits (overcladding of the existing brick masonry facade with an exterior insulated finish system and/or new windows). The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) conducted a study to assess the buildings’ energy performance, both before and after the retrofit. Results showed that the retrofit yielded significant energy savings in all six buildings, with an average savings of 21.2% for natural gas and 14.3% for electricity. The average per-unit cost of the retrofits was $6,358.


Replace Appliances

A separate CMHC study showed that older buildings could significantly improve overall energy and water efficiencies by replacing outdated equipment with modern appliances. According to the study, investing between $4,000 and $6,000 per unit improved efficiency by 10% to 47%. In units where tenants paid their own utility bills, residents saw the benefits of the retrofit firsthand, paving the way for better retention and word-of-mouth referrals. On top of the energy and water savings, the upgrade also lowered maintenance costs.


Go Digital

Infrastructure and appliances aren’t the only way to save energy and money. Internal operations have a significant impact on the overall budget. Property management firms that fall back on manual, paper-based processes waste a lot of valuable resources. Stacks of paper and rows of filing cabinets mean hefty printing, transportation and storage costs. Add to that the personnel hours needed to sort and search through paper files – and the fact that most archived records aren’t ever used – and electronic records start to make a lot of sense. Digital files are quick and easy to search, and don’t require large physical storage spaces. Recent findings show that businesses spend well over $50,000 annually on paper alone, not including printing and personnel costs. Meanwhile, archiving to the cloud is a fraction of the price.


How Property Vista Helps

Whether you own 10 or 10,000 rental units, we’re here to help you get better residents and a better bottom line. From web marketing and online resident applications, to intelligent credit checks, automated rent payment and maintenance portals, our web-based platform is easy to use and even easier to implement.

To learn more about what we can do to help maximize your growing business, sign up for your free account today or give us a call.

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Jack Beaton Sterling Karamar, Property Management
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