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The Benefits of "Greening" Your Building
Dawn Dyer

A host of experts now assert that burning fossil fuels, deforestation and other actions have produced a man-made layer of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases that allow sun rays to penetrate Earth’s atmosphere but do not allow excess heat to escape. This causes global temperatures to rise, glaciers to melt and creating problems around the world. Whether you believe that human activities are creating a greenhouse effect leading to Global Warming, or you simply want to save money by operating your buildings as efficiently as possible, there are many benefits to owners who take steps to make their apartment properties more sustainable. In addition to direct cost savings on operating and maintenance expenses, multi-family owners can reap benefits from greening buildings through rebates and/or tax incentives and positioning their property to compete for conscientious tenants who value living in a green environment and may even pay a premium for that privilege.

Green building is an approach to the design, construction and operation of buildings to meet three fundamental objectives: 1) Conserve natural resources; 2) Increase energy efficiency; and 3) Improve indoor air quality. While there is plenty of guidance and support available to construct new projects consistent with highly-efficient green building standards, how can owners of existing apartment properties jump on the Green Wave? There are a number of resources available to help owners maximize energy efficiency, reduce water consumption, enhance indoor air quality and reduce the carbon footprint of properties. Many local jurisdictions, non-profit organizations and utility providers offer technical assistance, information and support to enhance energy efficiency. Certain property-wide or common area enhancements can be completed anytime, while other improvements will be made incrementally as turnover of units occurs.

Curb appeal can be a huge factor in whether prospective tenants will choose your building as their new home and how much rent they are willing to pay. Landscaping is one of the most obvious aspects of that important first impression and also key to enhancing the green appeal of your property. Turf is one of the most water intensive plants in Southern California landscapes. Its' high water needs and frequent maintenance requirements make it a time-consuming, expensive option. Replacing turf with draught tolerant and native vegetation can not only provide a fresh look to your property but can help lower water bills, reduce wastewater charges, minimize maintenance costs and establish a commitment to enhanced sustainability.

Conducting an energy audit can identify other potential savings and may help buildings qualify for financial assistance or tax incentives for efficiency upgrades. Southern California Gas Co. offers rebates to property owners and managers for such items as natural gas water heaters and furnaces, attic and wall insulation and high-efficiency dishwashers. Additional cost savings can be realized through the installation of low flow toilets, faucets and shower fixtures; sealing air leaks around windows and doors; and replacing old appliances with Energy Star models.

Installation of solar panels can also be a great way to reduce operational costs. In some cases, solar panels can generate enough power that building owners can sell energy back to the utility company. Other options for savings on electricity include connecting lights to automated timers or installing motion detectors (where allowed) in such common areas as laundry rooms and storage areas.


All information provided herein is from sources deemed to be reliable, but no guarantee or warranty is stated or implied.

Copyright 2014 Dyer Sheehan Group, Inc.

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