by Adia Walker / Published May 2014
Going green” to support the conservation of resources has become a standard practice for businesses and communities across the globe. Whether the decision to adopt these measures is made out of a desire to save the planet, save money, or comply with regulations, there are many benefits to both the environment and the people involved.
This month, we explore a few environmentally-friendly options available to community associations that can also help cut costs and improve the lives of residents. The areas of green lighting, water conservation, and energy efficiency have allowed many association management teams to take on projects that provide a wide array of benefits.
“These items are particularly important for associations to consider as each one has a direct impact on the expenses of the community,” explains the Director of Business Devel-opment for Castle Group, Jordan Goldman. “Reductions in utility bills can reduce owner assessments. Additionally, there are supplemental benefits to implementing various green initiatives. For example, LED lights have a longer life span, thus reducing the need for maintenance personnel to replace bulbs as frequently. The chance for workplace accidents is reduced and maintenance personnel can be utilized elsewhere. Most importantly, these initiatives are environmentally friendly and help conserve valuable resources.”
With such obvious payoffs, many property management groups are taking advantage of the various opportunities available to them. In fact, some even dedicate time and energy trying to uncover new ways to conserve resources.
Upgrading to LED lighting is one of the most common ways to address the green initiative. It is an easy change that can provide direct, tangible benefits.
“As technology continues to develop at an exponential rate, it is even more important to have the proper resources dedicated to seeking out and implementing these advances,” says Goldman. “We have developed an initiative called ‘CastleGreen;’ the goal of this initiative is to identify and benchmark green solutions that impact the bottom line while providing a positive impact to the environment. In addition, we have developed relationships with vendors to offer a variety of green solutions.”
Upgrading to LED lighting is one of the most common ways to address the green initiative. It is an easy change that can provide direct, tangible benefits. “A simple switch from a 50-watt traditional bulb to a 3-watt LED bulb can have an immediate impact to the bottom line without losing the brightness,” says Goldman. “As an example, in one of the homeowner associations we manage, a switch to LED street lights has reduced the electrical bill by more than 20 percent annually.”
Castle Group installed LED lighting both inside the buildings and throughout the outside grounds of their communities. Other projects undertaken by the group include installing water saving flush valves in toilets, geothermal pool heaters to reduce the utility expense of heating the pool year round, using green fertilizer, water conservation applications, and other energy-efficiency best practices. “At Castle Group, we utilize a powerful combination of people, systems, and technology to stay on the cutting edge of this Green movement,” says Goldman.
Another management company, Empire Property Management Solutions, is also hard at work trying to save money and resources for the communities they manage. “Recently, we took over an association, which had major problems with their water bill,” begins Carmelo Gonzalez, President/Owner of Empire Property Management Solutions and Empire Management & Construction, Inc. “When we took over in January 2014, the water bill was $11,988 a month; this was for service rendered in December 2013. This association went through two prior assessments, and they could not find the leaks. They went through numerous plumbing companies to no avail. When our company took over in January, I assured the president of the association that we would implement strict energy conservation steps.”
With his extensive construction background, Gonzalez was able to quickly conduct water conservation inspections on the 90 condominiums to check for leaking faucets, showers, toilets, and water heaters. His other company, Empire Management & Construction, Inc., was awarded the bid to make the repairs; one month and 28 units later, the water bill had dropped from $11,988 to $9,655. But, they were not done yet. Searching for and repairing other leaks, including those in the water mains, has brought the most recent monthly water bill down to $5,104.92. This savings of nearly $7,000 a month is proof that investing time and energy in the right conservation projects can have big rewards.
Other conservation projects implemented by Gonzalez and his team at this particular association include cleaning coils and air ducts systems, as well as installing energy-efficient lighting. “Knowledge and quality isn’t expensive, it’s priceless,” says Gonzalez of his company’s ability to utilize experience to help conserve resources and money for the associations they manage.
While important, saving money and environmental resources are not the only reasons to implement green initiatives. Complying with regulations is also another vital aspect. “For buildings on the beach that have to meet the DNR turtle code requirements for light transmission, the past options were limited to mainly double-grey glass, which is dark and undesirable,” says David Meadors from Broward Impact Window and Door, Inc. “Some of the new ‘energy glasses’ like low emissivity (low e) and solar ban, which were designed solely for their energy value reason, also fulfill the requirements and thus provide double duty.”
“This is something that we push as I am a strong believer in the benefit of these products,” Meadors explains. “The cost is slightly higher, but with the code requirements being what they are on the beach, where the majority of the high-rises are, this is a strong alternative to dark glass blocking expensive views.”
The multiple benefits of green initiatives are an important part of the movement. “The most obvious and measureable saving is a decrease in expenses,” begins Goldman. “The less obvious and more difficult item to measure is the impact on the environment,” he continues. “Small changes in energy consumption have a real impact on the world around us. Cost savings benefits aside, we believe that it is our responsibility to seek out the most impactful green initiatives and implement them.”