The imperative to “go green” is becoming more central to today’s property management world. Going beyond a simple moral imperative connected to environmental sustainability, going green is also about the way we do business in general.
Of course saving the planet from ecological collapse is vital. On top of this, it’s good to know that green initiatives also improve efficiency, lower costs, reduce waste and save energy. There are many ways you can “go green,” but one of the most direct and effective ways is with energy efficiency. Energy not only produces waste and pollution, but is also very costly. Improving your building’s energy efficiency not only helps the environment, it saves you money in the long-run and makes you more appealing to younger and affluent tenants looking to find an apartment and make a positive impact at the same time.
To that end, here are three ways to make your buildings more energy efficient:
1. Let There Be Light
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Department of Energy’s EnergyStar.gov website, lighting accounts for the largest portion of a commercial or large residential building’s energy use, around 35%. That’s more than heating and cooling combined. Therefore, increasing energy efficiency in your building’s lighting can make a major impact in cost and energy use. You can engage in this project on a lot of different levels, from the basics of replacing all bulbs with energy efficient versions, to installing motion sensing light switches that shut off when not in use. Even a small change in the way you think about lighting in your buildings can make a significant difference.
2. Insulation Sensation
Another major factor in a building’s energy efficiency is the effectiveness of its insulation. Develop a strategy to reduce air leakage through the building envelope (the barrier between conditioned and unconditioned space). This applies to both walls and windows. Make sure your building’s external walls are well-insulated. Especially check for areas that are over-exposed and could lead to air leakage.
To a certain degree you can’t control what tenants do with their windows, but you can certainly remind tenants to keep windows closed. Ideally, you would install energy efficient windows. Adding storm windows is fairly impractical for larger apartment buildings, with the hassle of taking them in and out in the spring and autumn, but there is a wide selection of efficient year-round windows that greatly improve your building’s energy efficiency.
3. Make Your Own Energy
The most far-reaching way you can improve energy efficiency in the buildings you manage is by producing energy with the installation of a solar panel, wind turbine, or geothermal unit. The most viable option for many nowadays is solar panels. Many companies actually will subsidize the initial cost of installation for a longer-payment plan that does not change your cost of energy in the short-term. And in many states, you could be eligible for renewable energy tax credits. A state-by-state listing of available tax credits and additional financial incentives can be found at the Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency website.