By Ana Rivero / Published April 2019
Whether you believe global warming exists or not, there is no denying that the environment needs our help. According to the Community Associations Institute (CAI), there are more than 48,000 associations in the State of Florida, encompassing an estimated 9,750,000 residents. It is unknown how many of those associations have implemented any green initiatives in their community, but with that many residents living in associations, how can associations not afford to implement some environmentally friendly practices?
Implementing a green initiative in your community is a great way to reduce expenses while at the same time enhancing the residents’ experience and having a positive impact on our environment. There are a variety of simple and inexpensive changes an association can implement to benefit the environment. With so many options out there, how do you know what is best for your community?
The first thing you should do is hold a board meeting and start the conversation. Adding this topic to your next board meeting agenda will show the community that you are taking strides to implement such an initiative. It is our recommendation that the board establish a Green Committee to help identify which plans are best for your community.
There are a variety of ways in which green initiatives can be implemented.
Install energy-efficient LED lamps for the exterior and interior areas. LED light bulbs are known for low energy consumption and reducing costs in electricity, not to mention the fact that they last
longer than a regular old light bulb, thus presenting another way in which associations can save. There is an initial cost in changing out the lamps and light bulbs, but over time the cost savings far outweigh the initial investment. In addition, some LED light bulbs provide lighting for a larger area than your average light bulb and can be aesthetically pleasing.
If your association has a clubhouse or gym which includes bathroom and showers, you may want to install a timer on your water heater, so it does not run when the amenity is closed. This can represent a savings in your electrical bill.
Purchase Energy Star® rated appliances for the common areas. If your association has laundry rooms, make sure that the washers and dryers are Energy Star® rated. These products save energy, which not only helps the environment but also helps reduce electrical expenses. Unless the association has the funds to change out all appliances at the same time, I recommend they be replaced as the machines become old and are not worth repairing.
Install occupancy timers or sensors in the common areas that are not occupied all of the time, such as the common area restrooms, gym, storage rooms, party rooms, and hallways. These sensors will turn on the lights in these spaces when they detect motion. As a result, the lights are not left on inadvertently by someone who forgot to turn off the light switch as they left the area.
The association can also adjust thermostats and use programmable thermostats to control temperature for common area rooms and hallways. Maintenance staff should inspect and seal the ducts to prevent air from escaping to other areas. If possible, use reflective surfaces on the roof to deflect heat, which can significantly reduce air cooling expenses.
Another way to help the environment is through water conservation methods. For starters, your association can install detection and automated faucets in common area restrooms. Irrigate landscape during the cooler hours of day to reduce evaporation. Check with your local municipality, as they may have their own restrictions on the days and times that you can irrigate. The association should hire an irrigation company or have their maintenance man run the sprinkler system on a periodic basis to identify leaks. This alone can save the association thousands of dollars in water consumption.
In addition to regularly inspecting the association’s irrigation system, the irrigation company should install weather devices (such as rain sensors), backflow preventer devices, and irrigation sub meters, which help conserve water and ensure that your sprinkler system is working well. Check for discounts for the use of water conservation efforts. Whenever possible, use xeriscaping, which is a practice that uses slow growing, drought-resistant landscaping. This philosophy also suggests that landscape be mulched regularly because mulch helps retain moisture in the soil and slows down evaporation.
Once the Green Committee has reviewed the options, they should establish a plan with their proposals and the costs associated with them. The board should review the committee’s recommendations at another duly called meeting. It is important to review the association’s budget and include some of the monetary expenses associated with these initiatives in the association’s next budget. It is also not a bad idea to get the membership’s opinion and feedback on the proposed plans. You are going to need their cooperation to make this a success. Once the plan is adopted, let the owners know and prepare a plan of action.
Most of these recommendations require a small initial investment, but with time the savings to the association will far outweigh the implementation costs. It may not be necessarily feasible for an association to implement all of these initiatives, but even the implementation of one can go a long way to help the environment.
Allied Property Group
Allied Property Group is a full-service property management company providing service to South Florida since 2003. We understand the challenges faced by the boards of directors to maintain low costs, increase property values, and enhance the community experience for their fellow neighbors. Our experienced and talented staff can help you achieve those goals by helping you save time and money. You will find that we genuinely care about your community and its goals. We provide a personal touch to increase positive relationships with our board members and homeowners alike.
For more information on Allied Property Group, call (305) 232-1579 or visit www.alliedpropertygroup.net.