Today’s multifamily housing owners and managers are constantly looking for new, innovative, and cost efficient sustainability approaches that will help “green up” their properties. Some of the strategies being implemented are smart irrigation and watering controllers, daily utility usage monitoring, and even on site charging stations for electric vehicles. And while these measures are all certainly more positive options for our environment, the benefits here go even further, as they also add value to the properties and communities.
With multifamily communities representing a large percentage of the existing buildings in many major metro areas, and with many of these buildings being older and with less energy efficient or sustainability features, there is a prime opportunity to improve sustainability and add value to existing multifamily communities.
Let’s take a look at 5 ways to incorporate sustainability into multifamily units, as well as the value that each adds.
1. Look closely at your water heaters.
Heating water is a huge opportunity to help you conserve energy in your community. There are various strategies for operating water heaters more efficiently, including installing solar hot water systems, improving distribution systems, and increasing the thermal efficiency of the water heater. Not only will the more efficient options be attractive to your residents, you will see an increase in savings, as well.
2. Replace old appliances.
Did you know that cooking and refrigeration represent a larger portion of overall energy use in multifamily housing than in single family housing? As such, replacing outdated appliances and replacing them with new and energy efficient counterparts can go a long way in multifamily housing to incorporate sustainability -- and increase savings. Energy efficient dishwashers, and washer and dryer sets will save both energy and water.
3. Revamp your common area lighting strategy.
24/7 usage of common area lighting can create a massive energy load that is unique to multifamily communities. But you also want to make sure that your residents are safe and your buildings secure. Consider alternative lighting options, including the use of photocells or timers for exterior lighting, or occupancy sensors for common areas such as a garage or laundry room.
4. Update your water fixtures.
While aerators and high efficiency shower heads and faucets are certainly an investment for your community, keep in mind that most of these fixtures have a typical payback period of less than 24 months. Updating your water fixtures is one of the easiest and most significant ways to conserve overall water use in your community. Consider implementing regular audits, as well, which can help to prioritize improvements.
5. Replace any toilets installed before the year 2000.
In a typical household, multifamily buildings included, the toilets use more water than any other fixture or appliance. And toilets installed in the 1990s or earlier use more than twice as much water as the standard toilet on the market today. Replacing old toilets with these newer, more efficient models, will not only lessen your residents’ carbon footprints, it will be more energy efficient for them, resulting in savings that will appeal to everyone.
To develop an initial sustainability plan, it is most helpful to consider a mix of no cost, low cost, and higher cost solutions that you can continue to add and implement as funds become available. Once you’ve decided what you can afford, start with the projects that will give you the most bang for your buck and work your way down the list.