As a landlord, do you sigh when you hear about “going green?” Is there any way of going green in your commercial properties without going broke?
Maybe you understand and believe in sustainability practices, but just aren’t sure they’re practical in the big picture. After all, aren’t specialty building products more expensive? And retro-fitting an existing property seems like an even bigger task.
Not necessarily, says Cindy Wick, regional vice president of Western National Property Management.
“While the elusive task of ‘achieving’ sustainability in an existing property may seem daunting, there are small steps owners and managers can take to create a positive social impact while keeping costs low, resident retention high and the bottom line healthy,” she writes for Multi-Housing News.
Research is critical – a region’s climate, the direction a property faces, and seasonal temperature trends all affect its environmental footprint. Water-saving strategies are more critical in drought-prone regions than they are in places with plentiful rain; on the other hand, desert or plains states are ideal for solar panels, while a shaded Northeastern mountainside property may not be.
Wick reminds property owners that such things as energy-efficient windows, smart thermostats, water-saving dishwashers and washing machines, and low-flow showerheads and toilets can make a big difference – both to the property’s sustainability and in the tenant’s bills.
“These energy-efficient upgrades have a dual benefit: they not only positively impact the environment, but are also in high demand among renters,” Wick writes. “Apartments equipped with smart devices and green features typically command stronger rents, and aid in resident attraction and retention.”
Once you’ve made your property sustainable, you may have a marketing advantage.
“Offering an eco-friendly apartment building sets your rentals apart from other properties on the market,” says Appfolio, a cloud-based property-management software company. “If you care about the environment, offering services like composting, green energy, and bicycle parking at your multifamily unit is a natural fit.
“By requiring tenants to live sustainably, via green clauses in the lease, you can create an intentional community of happy renters who enjoy where they live, intend to stay for a long time, and match your commitment to sustainability,” the website says.
If you are in the position to build sustainable, eco-friendly multifamily housing, so much the better. When the online magazine Building Design + Construction wrote about green trends in early 2018, they reported it through the eyes of the architects and engineers of Paladino, a sustainable real estate consulting company. Here are five trends they noted:
• Space, design & planning: Flexible space is key, whether it is apartments that double as work spaces, retail that becomes a community gathering place, or a retail establishment with condos above.
• Wellness: A growing emphasis on how people’s health and wellness respond to their physical environment. “Perhaps surprisingly, the sustainability and wellness experts are finding themselves at odds when it comes to priorities (how much energy should we use to achieve greater health?) – but leading organizations know that it’s not either-or. Abundance has taught us that more good options deliver better results. These conflicts should be laid to rest by 2019.”
• Resiliency: Climate is everything. A year after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, building-resilience requirements are more critical than ever.
• Innovation in building design: “We’ll see increased adoption and use of ‘smart everything’ this year. This might also be the year that we realize that smart is best when it’s wise. We’ll see intelligent combinations of passive strategies and smart technologies rise to the top.”
• Certifications: It’s admittedly alphabet soup: Fitwel, ILFI, GRI, JUST, ISSP, IWBI, BREAAM US, GBCI. All are certifying organizations that presented at the 2017 Greenbuild conference in Boston. When in doubt? Focus on LEED.