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5 energy conservation strategies for community associationsAs communities navigate the complexities of sustainability and environmental responsibility, energy conservation emerges as a pivotal concern within community associations. These associations, comprising residential neighborhoods, condominiums, and other communal living spaces, hold a unique responsibility to manage energy usage efficiently. Beyond mere cost savings, the imperative for energy conservation in these associations extends to fostering a sustainable future, enhancing property values, and promoting a sense of collective responsibility among residents. In this article, we delve into the significance of energy conservation within community associations, exploring its benefits and strategies for effective implementation.

What are 5 energy conservation strategies?

No matter where you live, energy costs take a bite out of community association budgets all year long. Whether you’re heating a lobby in Toronto or cooling one in Florida, you’re spending money on climate control. You can’t change the weather, but you can take simple steps to keep costs manageable.
Chris Normandeau, director of FirstService Energy, the energy management subsidiary of FirstService Residential, suggests that your board track how your residents use common spaces. “Take a look at patterns of when rooms are used and how much energy is used in your common areas, and program thermostats and lighting around that,” he recommends. “If no one is in the clubhouse from 11 p.m. to 8 a.m., there’s no reason to heat that space like it’s being used. Turn the heat down, but never turn it off completely so the pipes won’t freeze.”
  1. LED lighting upgrades: Switching to energy-efficient LED bulbs in common areas such as hallways, parking lots, and recreational facilities can significantly reduce electricity consumption. LED lights not only use less energy but also have longer lifespans, reducing maintenance costs for the association. You’d be surprised how often people leave lights on in unoccupied rooms. Install motion-activated sensors or a timer to make sure you aren’t burning unneeded lights – and money!
  2. Energy-efficient appliances: Encouraging or requiring residents to use energy-efficient appliances in their homes can lead to substantial energy savings. Appliances such as refrigerators, dishwashers, and washing machines with ENERGY STAR ratings consume less electricity and water, contributing to lower utility bills.
  3. Programmable thermostats: Installing programmable thermostats in community buildings and facilities allows for precise control over heating and cooling schedules. This helps avoid unnecessary energy usage by adjusting temperatures based on occupancy patterns, reducing heating and cooling costs without sacrificing comfort.
  4. Solar panel installation: Community associations can invest in solar panel installations on rooftops or common areas to generate renewable energy. Solar power can offset a significant portion of the association's electricity consumption, leading to long-term savings and reducing reliance on grid electricity.
  5. Education and awareness campaigns: Implementing education and awareness campaigns to inform residents about energy-saving practices can foster a culture of conservation within the community. Providing tips on energy-efficient habits, such as turning off lights when not in use, unplugging electronics, and properly insulating homes, empowers residents to play an active role in reducing energy consumption.
By adopting these and other energy conservation measures, community associations can not only lower utility costs but also contribute to environmental sustainability and enhance the overall quality of life for residents.

Make energy conservation a priority

Train your staff on the importance of energy conservation and how they can reduce costs for your association. A good property management company will provide professional guidance for that training. If your HOA or community association is professionally managed, your property manager should already have an energy and cost reduction plan in place for your building or community. This should include proactive efforts such as renegotiating utility rates, buying energy-efficient products and equipment and using bulk purchasing programs to reduce commodity costs.

Don’t stop there! Get your residents involved in energy conservation. Create an energy committee to find ways to reduce energy use and costs in and around your building or community. Your board or property manager can send messages promoting the association’s commitment to save energy, as well as provide conservation tips that residents can use at home.

Conduct an energy audit

How much energy does your building actually use? Are there steps you can take to increase efficiency and lower costs? An energy audit can give you a an overall picture. Most local utilities perform energy audits to help your building or community identify ways to lower energy use and costs, usually at no cost to you. They may recommend improving or replacing insulation, applying window film and installing energy monitoring systems in common areas.

For specialized support, you can work with an energy consultant. A recognized innovator in this field is FirstService Energy. FirstService Energy creates Energy Report Cards to measure and benchmark the energy use of FirstService Residential’s managed properties in New York City, Florida, Georgia and Illinois. By benchmarking your property’s Building Energy Rating Guide (BERG) score against similar buildings in its database, FS Energy can tailor strategies to lower your energy use, carbon emissions and costs year-round.

You can learn more about energy audits in our article “5 ways to reduce energy costs in your condo or coop

Energy saving and property management

In conclusion, energy conservation holds immense potential to transform community associations, offering a pathway towards financial stability, environmental responsibility, and enhanced communal well-being. By embracing energy-saving practices such as LED lighting upgrades, energy-efficient appliance usage, programmable thermostat installations, solar panel investments, and educational initiatives, community associations can pave the way for a more sustainable future. Through collective action and a shared commitment to conservation, these associations can significantly reduce their environmental footprint while simultaneously bolstering their bottom line.

As community associations navigate the challenges of the modern world, prioritizing energy conservation emerges as a pragmatic and forward-thinking strategy. By harnessing the power of innovation, education, and collaboration, these associations can not only thrive financially but also serve as beacons of sustainability and stewardship within their neighborhoods.

To see how a professional management company like FirstService Residential can support your community, contact a member of our team.


Friday April 12, 2024