I had an interesting conversation with Mike Whaling and Lisa Trosien on Twitter last week regarding the benefits for apartment communities going green during this economy. A question was posed whether renters will actually see the benefit of apartment properties going green and therefore, pay the extra premiums associated with it. According to the key findings from a Conscious Consumer Report (2009), 51% polled said they are “willing to pay more” for ‘green’ products. Confirming that study, Apartments.com published a survey stating “apartment communities that offer environmentally-friendly amenities are more likely to turn undecided renters into residents. Additionally, more than half of renters surveyed indicated they would take an apartment community’s commitment to environmental issues into consideration.” However, 66% polled in the Conscious Consumer Report said that price is very important in the purchase decision, implying that price can be the deciding factor.
Therefore, management companies that want to go ‘green’ need to consider factors that will help their bottom line in addition to the prospective renter. You may ask, as Mike did, how can the bottom line in a community with sub-metered utilities be helped? Well, I called the one person I knew would know; that was my father, Scott Bucheister. He is a salesman at Coastal Insulation and was recently certified by Earth Craft Virginia. He commented that “going green can have a direct impact for property manager’s finances by saving money on energy and maintenance costs.” Curious in what ways? Here are a few he mentioned:
Solar Lighting or CFL Bulbs:
The benefits of using solar lighting on an apartment property are abundant. First off, it has low energy costs. It has very little maintenance. And it comes from a renewable resource as it is powered by the sun. Another benefit is that solar lights continue working even if there has been a power outage. Because the energy isn’t coming off of an electrical grid, power outages make no difference. Installing solar lighting for your landscaping needs, wall lights, security lights, etc. around the apartment community will save money. Compact Fluorescent Light (CFL) bulbs will also prove beneficial to properties in common areas such as community centers, unit hallways, management and maintenance offices, etc.
Low Flow Water Devices:
Water and money can be saved by installing low-flow water devices around the apartment community. In community laundry mats, replace old washers with front-loading ENERGY-STAR washers that conserve water. In the community center install faucet aerators on your bathroom taps. Replace old toilets with new low-flow or ultra-low flow toilets or, in the kitchen, replace old dishwashers with ENERGY-STAR dishwashers that conserve water.
Xeriscaping & WeatherTrak Irrigation Systems:
Xeriscaping refers to landscaping and gardening in ways that reduce or eliminate the need for supplemental irrigation. The specific plants used in xeriscaping depend upon the climate. Some common plants used in Western xeriscaping are agave, cactus, lavender, juniper, sedum and thyme. Advantages of xeriscaping include lower water bills, less time and work needed for maintenance, and there is little or no lawn mowing (saves energy). Xeriscape plants, along with proper bed design, tends to take full advantage of rainfall and when water restrictions are implemented, xeriscape plants will tend to survive, while more traditional plants may be unable to adapt. “If you think about it, most apartment communities completely redo their landscaping every year with the flower beds, lawns, trees, etc. If they use native plants that are drought resistant they don’t have to replant every year to attract new renters,” said Mr. Bucheister. “In fact, I was so impressed with the idea of xeriscaping that I actually implemented this in my garden at home! It’s extremely convenient as I have little to no maintenance compared to beforehand.”
Besides xeriscaping, there are other irrigation systems that are environmentally friendly. While ordinary irrigation systems overwater your landscape, leaving you with high water bills, WeatherTRAK® smart irrigation systems help you save water, money and time by eliminating overwatering. Drawing on information delivered wirelessly from 40,000 weather stations, the irrigation is automatically scheduled based on individual landscaping needs and local weather conditions. And catching rainwater using a rain barrel or other rainwater harvesting system can be used to water outdoor plants.
Energy efficient appliances, windows and light bulbs in apartments tend to help out the renters, yes. They can also be a great selling point in convincing a prospective renter to live at a community. And in my opinion should be done by all apartment communities. However, in the current economic situation property managers should also incorporate environmentally friendly ideas that will help their bottom line as well. Do you agree?
Category: Going Green