In this economy, everyone is looking to cut costs. Luckily, as a property manager, there are many ways to reduce and reuse resources to cut down on your monthly bills. You’ll save cash and create a more environmentally friendly property that will appease current tenants and attract future ones.
"A lot of people are throwing around the word ’green,’" says Dan Kasman, a real estate developer who, with Michael Gyory, co-owns the Thornwood Self Storage Center. "It represents so many concepts and is so abstract. People want to know more, and we like to explain these things."
Kasman and Gyory, who describe themselves as "committed to the sustainability effort," reused 95 percent of the Thornwood Center’s original structure (it was formally a health club) and installed a variety of green features.
Chad Skally, owner/president of Skally Management, a real estate management company, has made it a part of his mission to create eco-friendly properties in order to save money and help the environment, which he says helps build business.
"If you market your green efforts and educate your residents, it can pay back with less vacancies and residents living in your apartments longer," he says.
Skally says native plants require little maintenance, so you will not only save on water, but you’ll also reduce the amount of pollution created by minimizing the use of a gas-powered lawn mower. In fact, all of Skally’s plants survived a recent drought because they were used to the weather. Plus, he adds, you don’t have to use fertilizer with local greenery so there’s no risk of it running into nearby lakes and streams.
Setting up a Automated Clearing House (ACH) network not only reduces the amount of paper and postage used when paying rent, but Skally says it also provides the convenience to you and your tenants of ensuring rent always gets paid on time. ACH can be set up through your bank and though there is usually a fee involved, you’ll likely save on gas by not having to make regular trips to your bank for deposits.
It’s very likely your community has a recycling program, so make sure your property is participating in it. However, don’t stop at recycling receptacles next to your dumpsters. Skally also recommends putting smaller bins in common areas, such as the mailroom, where people discard a lot of junk mail and other waste. Your tenants will appreciate the convenience, and it will make you more appealing to potential tenants.
Although it might seem precarious to spend large sums of money right now, don’t lose sight of the long-term investments. There are many steps you can take to reduce your need for HVAC. Buy now and get paid more later.
When it comes to harnessing natural heat and light for a structure, a roof can make a big difference. Skally says a white roof (also known as a cool roof) reduces the overall heat of the building in the summer, which reduces the amount of air conditioning needed.
"It especially helps in urban areas where almost everything is black," he says. "It’s not much more expensive than a traditional roof."
Or if insulation is more important to you, Skally suggests a green roof with soil and plant material. Besides reducing the need for heat, it also provides more oxygen. But Skally says to make sure your roof is strong enough to support the extra material.
Many times, artificial heating is used to compensate for cold air that’s coming through fissures in the building. Take the time to evaluate your building’s walls, floors and roof for where sealing is needed. Kasman and Gyory recommend Icynene, an insulation spray/foam.
"Because it acts as an air barrier, it has sealed many of the cracks and fissures in our old concrete block building," says Gyory. "The increase in insulation over the pre-renovation will result in great energy savings."
To drive down energy consumption and costs, Kasman and Gyory took advantage of free, natural energy by installing rooftop solar panels.
Nothing supports an initiative like getting the community interested. Skally does a quarterly newsletter of eco-friendly tips, such as preventing water waste, creating an herb garden or converting to CFLs. He also recommends setting up events or projects for everyone to get involved. You can do things such as planting a garden, doing a group clean up or having various workshops for "green" practices.
Gyory thinks his community has appreciated his and Kasman’s efforts to create a healthier environment.
"We’re both members of the community," he says. "It seemed like just the right thing to do."