I came across an interesting tidbit in my reading last night that I think will make you proud to be an Angeleno. It turns out that Los Angeles was the first city in the country that required city-owned buildings to be built to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) specifications. LA is proving itself more and more to be a conscientious city that cares about the environment and sustainability, and it’s not just city-owned buildings that are being built to LEED standards. Almost every new apartment building I see has some degree of energy efficiency built in.
What I don’t as often, however, is multifamily apartment owners taking the initiative and implementing energy efficient retrofits to their property. I understand why—working to save the environment is admirable, but it can be expensive in the short term. So why should multifamily owners make the investment? You need to take the long view: Over time, introducing energy-efficient retrofits and renovations will save you money—and with some patience, you will reap the benefits.
Here are just a few of the investments you can make that will ultimately benefit you, your tenants, and the earth.
Getting Warmed Up With Energy-Efficient Water Heaters
If you’re like most apartment owners that I know, you’re not going to want to think about a new water tank before your old one begins having issues. But, if I can persuade you to give it a second thought, you may just end up saving a few dollars and pleasing a few tenants. Tankless water systems are far and away and the most efficient option, for a variety of reasons, including:
- Space: Since the National Appliance Energy Conservation Act came into effect in April 2015, the size of standard water heaters has increased significantly to allow for added insulation. This means that, although they are now more efficient than they were, they take up more space in your property. A tankless solution, on the other hand, takes up a fraction of the space, leaving you free to utilize the area in other ways.
- Energy: Tankless systems are up to 50% more efficient than traditional heaters because they only heat water on demand. No huge tank of hot water has to be heated all at once and then left to cool over 24 hours. And because water is heated instantly, your tenants will never have to waste water waiting for the shower to heat up.
- Price and Longevity: Tankless systems are more expensive than their traditional counterparts. But the price gap has closed considerably over the last few years. What’s more, a tankless system should last at least 5-10 years longer than almost any other option available—that’s double the lifetime of a traditional water heater. Factor in the potential savings on your energy bill, and an energy-efficient water tank starts to look like a great investment for your wallet and the environment.
Get Enlightened With More Efficient Lighting
Installing energy-efficient bulbs doesn’t mean you have to forgo light quality. In fact, you can even improve it. Cost saving and energy efficiency with common area lighting can be achieved in two ways: the type of bulb used and lighting controls.
- Bulb Type: You’re going to want to look at using LED or T8 high-performance linear fluorescent bulbs wherever possible. Both have extremely long lifespans—over 40,000 hours—and therefore offer significant savings on maintenance. T8s are also relatively cheap to buy and install (and no longer suffer from the flickering issue that afflicted previous fluorescent bulbs), although they do require hazardous disposal.
- Lighting Controls: While some areas of your multifamily property will need to be continuously lit, there are many other areas—think laundry and trash rooms, garages and stairwells—that only need to be lit when in use. Occupancy sensors and vacancy sensors offer potential energy savings of up to 25%, and can ensure that energy is not going to waste lighting a room that no one is using. Tenants may also enjoy the inclusion of dimmer switches in their apartments. Not only does it provide them with greater control and the opportunity to create mood lighting, but it’s also another cost-saving strategy for you, the owner.
Drought Tolerant Landscaping Saves Money and Water
I’ve discussed drought tolerant landscaping in a previous post, but it bears repeating here. There’s just so much to gain by making the switch to drought-tolerant grass and plants. By being environmentally friendly and ceasing to water your plants, you’ll say goodbye to that sky-high water bill and the fees you pay for weekly maintenance. What’s more, losing the dead grass around your property will also help to boost your curb appeal and possibly help you to attract new tenants. Best of all, there’re even rebates to help you cover the cost. Seriously, what have you got to lose? Aside from all that dead grass, of course.
Longer-Life Roofing to Keep You Covered
Your apartment’s roof is not only an opportunity to save energy, but yet another opportunity to save money. How? By replacing your asphalt shingles with a roof that is both energy efficient and sustainable.
Metal roofs are perhaps the best option in this respect. Not only are they low maintenance, lasting for well over 30 years, they are also great at reflecting the sun’s heat and thus keeping the apartment cool. Of course, this comes at a premium, and you can expect to pay two or three times the price of traditional shingles. However, the initial cost can undoubtedly be recuperated through savings on maintenance and energy bills.
Another option to consider is concrete tiling. Although not as reflective as metal sheeting, these tiles do a great job of absorbing the sun’s heat without getting hot themselves. Again, this means a cooler home and less energy spent on A/C. Even more impressive is that they come with the bonus of up to a 50-year warranty.
A Little Help Going Green
Making improvements to your multifamily with a view toward going green isn’t always straightforward. As with any renovation work, it’s suitable to find a multifamily specialist with experience carrying out the kind of improvements mentioned above. For information on how REIG can help you start the process, get in touch with our friendly client support team today.