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Leverage high-efficiency upgrades, win residents.

The trend toward sustainable buildings is growing across the real estate industry. This shift in the green industry is affecting property managers and making these renovations worth their investment.


Some 68 percent of multifamily housing builders report that customers are willing to pay more for green apartments and condominiums than traditional ones, according to a recent study by McGraw-Hill Construction. In this industry every advantage that helps differentiate one community from competitors is a major asset, and incorporating environmentally friendly features into your facility and branding is a simple and effective way to stand out.

Besides offering the potential to garner higher rents, green amenities and policies can lower energy and water costs. These benefits help ease the burden on operational systems and can be used effectively in marketing aimed at attracting new residents. Many upgrades are simple, affordable and don't require major overhauls or remodels.

Quick-Turn Upgrades

With summer in full swing, high utility bills are top of mind. Offset spiking costs by installing programmable thermostats, which allow residents to adjust their respective units to their desired temperature from smartphones and other devices. Some thermostats help minimize guesswork by adjusting themselves based on occupancy, weather and habits of each resident. Be sure to educate residents on how the new devices work and the potential effect on their electricity bills.


On the operations side, upgrading thermostats reduces energy use and strain on the HVAC system, which may extend time between costly repairs and prolong the life of apartment homes.

Another quick money-saving addition is a lighting conversion to LEDs, which use 84 percent less energy per bulb versus traditional incandescents. They also last 25 times longer than other bulbs, freeing up the maintenance team for other tasks. Lay out a strategic plan for a full conversion to LEDs, balancing initial investments with the approximate time each bulb takes to pay itself off.

In addition to replacing bulbs, think about switching to WaterSense[R]-certified faucets and showerheads, which are also simple to install. On average, standard showerheads use 2.5 gallons of water per minute, while WaterSense[R]-certified showerheads use no more than 2 gallons per minute.

Long-Term Investments

Replacing toilets can be more tedious than faucets, but they have the potential to save a lot on water bills. Look for low-flow toilets and WaterSense[R]-certified models such as the Niagara[R] Stealth to help reduce water usage. Whenever a unit's bathroom requires repairs or attention, consider that as an opportunity to install high efficiency toilets and fixtures.

Outside of the apartments, evaluate ways to make the community more water efficient. Keep the landscape lush without wasting water resources by using smart irrigation technology. Smart controllers can reduce annual bills as much as 15 percent by watering plants only when necessary, and drip systems perform much more efficiently than sprinklers by delivering water right to the roots of plants.

Finally, consider a few notable updates such as creating a community garden, a compost garden or implementing a recycling program. These are the kind of options that environmentally conscious consumers might expect.

When considering the cost of green renovations, look into rebates for products such as certain LED lights, toilets and thermostats, which can help offset the cost of high efficiency upgrades.


By Scott Matthews, Director, Strategic Accounts, The Home Depot
COPYRIGHT 2016 National Apartment Association
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Copyright 2016 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:maintenance insider
Author:Matthews, Scott
Date:Jul 1, 2016
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