Your community association management company can help. An excellent management company is adept at developing sustainable, planet-friendly strategies that help your community accomplish the twin objectives of saving money and saving the planet.
In this article, we have broken it down to 10 easy strategies you can implement in your community to help get you on your way. Here we go:
1. Waste reduction
So it’s really more than just recycling, which we’re all pretty familiar with at this point. Waste reduction begins when you buy, through purchasing fewer items, or items that include less wasteful packaging or are manufactured with elements that are less toxic. Communities have also seen success with a “pay as you throw” program through the EPA, wherein homeowners pay for each can or bag of trash they dispose of, rather than paying a flat fee for the service. You can also reduce your waste through the EPA’s WasteWise program (www.epa.gov/wastewise).
Beyond reducing and recycling, you can explore ways to reuse items rather than disposing of them. Use glasses and mugs instead of disposable cups. Donate used equipment instead of throwing it out. Encourage residents to use reusable grocery bags. And pursue other sources – websites like www.use-less-stuff.com and www.redo.org are full of practical ideas that will help you reduce waste in your community.
3. Water Efficiency
Water conservation is important – especially for those who live in the West. Check the records and see how your community’s water usage has been trending over time. In 1993, the average household used about 125-150 gallons per day. Today, that has dropped to 45 to 75 gallons. By seeing where your community stacks up, you can know how aggressively you should pursue water efficiency plans like faucet and toilet repairs, or the replacement of traditional showerheads and flushers with more water-smart models. In your common areas, consider replacing turf with drought-tolerant plants, and be sure to check your irrigation system at least monthly. Replacing older, faulty spray heads will yield considerable savings.
4. Light the way
Replacing lighting with compact fluorescent lamps (CFL’s) will help reduce energy use. Plus, these bulbs last a lot longer. On average, replacing five old-fashioned bulbs with CFL’s could save upwards of $100 annually.
5. Look for Energy Star
Washers, dishwashers, refrigerators and air conditioners with Energy Star ratings will perform more efficiently. There’s a full list of Energy Star-rated items at www.energystar.gov.
6. Harness daylight
You can reduce the amount of electricity you use in your offices and homes by placing workstations near windows, reducing the need for artificial light. Have your cleaning crew come during the day so they can take advantage of the natural sunlight...and be sure they’re turning lights off as they leave a room. You can even install a photo sensor like DaySwitch that controls your lighting automatically, increasing efficiency.
7. Unplug, or plug in something different
Unplug small household appliances when you’re not using them. If you have the option to use a laptop or a desktop computer, opt for the smaller one – it draws less power (up to 80% less). And when you’re cooking, choose the microwave instead of the oven whenever possible. Not only is it faster, but it reduces carbon dioxide emissions to the tune of about one pound for every meal.
Homes lose significant efficiency through the attic. Install insulation without covering vents. Knee walls – those that have attic space behind them – usually require additional insulation as well. You can also insulate around your water heater (if its specs allow) to maximize efficiency.
9. Adjust your water heater
An optimal setting for your water heater is 120 degrees. At this heat, you can reduce carbon emissions by 1200 pounds annually for electric units, and 880 pounds a year for gas heaters.
10. Think outside the power company
For some communities, pursuing sources of alternative energy can yield considerable savings. A renewable source such as solar can be a welcomed augmentation to your energy mix. You’ll just want to make sure that the initial capital output is offset by enough savings over time, and that the installation of any equipment doesn’t violate your community standards.
Being green is good for your community – and for the planet. Start with these 10 simple strategies and you’ll find that Earth-friendly is easier than you think. For more information on how a great community association management company can assist with your green efforts, contact FirstService Residential, North America’s leading property management company, today.