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Lowering Summertime Energy Costs

Summer is a fun time of the year, but it can also create a multitude of headaches for multifamily property owners.  For many regions of the country, the summertime heat can reach 100° Fahrenheit on a daily basis. As a result, residents consume an increased amount of energy to mitigate the heat.

Air conditioners constantly running, ceiling fans being left on,  personal auxiliary cooling devices, are just a few reasons for higher energy costs during the summer. Fortunately for property owners, there are proven steps to counteract some of the stifling energy bills that come along with summertime.

ProudGreenBuilding.com is a company focused on adopting high-performance strategies, systems and products for all types of buildings and multifamily homes. Furthermore, ProudGreenBuildings provides relevant digital information and knowledge needed to create dependable, efficient buildings. For example, the sustainability-focused company recently posted an article providing tips for lowering a multifamily property’s energy output.

Here are the three highlights of the article:

Quick and Easy Upgrades –Todd Feist, sustainability program manager at the Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM), said one of the easiest and most affordable things small-portfolio owners can do to make their properties more sustainable is upgrade the lighting.

“Inefficient lighting can take up a substantial part of a building’s energy profile, and upgrading to LED lighting is fairly simple and the return on investment is easy to measure and understand for a lot of people,” he said. Also, consider benchmarking, which Feist says is fundamental.

“You can’t manage what you don’t measure,” he said. The EPA created ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager, a free energy management tool for owners looking to begin their journey toward sustainability.”

Timing Is Key – There are other common systems in multifamily buildings that consume a lot of energy, but they may not be as simple to upgrade for small-portfolio owners who have limited resources.

“Old HVAC systems are a drain on energy, but these can be a little more difficult to replace and the return on investment perhaps isn’t as apparent as upgraded lighting,” Feist said. “People usually want to use the HVAC to the end of its useful life, and then consider upgrading to a more efficient system at that point.”

It’s especially important to strategically time property improvements to not displace renters and disrupt inflows.

“A good time to complete upgrades is during lease turnover, when you can more easily swap out old equipment and fixtures for more sustainable options. If you have any big cosmetic or design renovations planned, this could also be a good time to make some energy-efficient upgrades,” he said.

Programs and Benefits – There has been an increase in state and federal programs promoting green energy in recent years, and it can be difficult to determine what you qualify for and which program is best suited for you. Since programs and tax benefits vary, Feist recommends checking out the DSIRE database, which is searchable by state.

Utilities companies are ramping up their offerings to promote energy efficiency by offering incentives. 

“A lot of times they will even go above that and offer walk-through’s and assessments of your property to identify opportunities for additional efficiency,” Feist said. “Depending on the program, the assessment could be free, and they’ll list out recommended upgrades and provide you with a quote.”

Financing companies have also increased their offerings to encourage sustainability. Well-known programs such as Fannie Mae’s Green Rewards program and Freddie Mac’s Green Advantage program are great options for small-balance owners improving existing properties.  Additionally, IREM created the Certified Sustainable Property program, a green-building certification that provides a framework for smaller owners and operators to get a handle on how to best make their properties energy efficient.

For small-balance multifamily owners, making sustainable, energy-efficient upgrades can require careful consideration.

“Owners and managers are being pulled in a million directions as it is, so it’s important to make upgrades that don’t require a huge shift in staff and resources,” Feist said. “Partner with providers that you trust, and don’t fall for improvements just for their flashiness. Make sure you have a thorough understanding of how all upgrades and improvements will benefit you and your residents.”

Click here for ProudGreenBuilding.com to learn more about energy efficiency and sustainable building strategies. 

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What Your Employees and Residents Need to Know About Pests

Allowing a property’s pest problem to go unaddressed can quickly spiral out of hand. Informing employees and residents how to prevent and detect pests can save everyone involved a substantial amount of time, money, and frustration by stopping the infestation before it occurs. So, who’s better input than that of a certified entomologist? 

In an article for multifamilyexecutive.com, Hope Bowman, a technical specialist and board-certified entomologist with Western Pest Services, covered some basic facts for employees and residents to keep in mind when preventing/detecting pests:

1. Poor sanitation can lead to pests
Pests such as rodents, flies, and cockroaches are often drawn indoors because they detect a food source. Maintaining a clean space and taking out the trash daily can help deter them.

2. Water attracts pests
Pests need water to survive, so have residents report or fix leaky faucets, empty any bowls and cups collecting water in the sink, and remove any other sources of standing water in their units.

3. Cleanliness doesn’t prevent bedbugs
It doesn’t matter how clean one keeps one’s space; bedbugs can survive anywhere they can find a blood meal—and they prefer to feed on humans. So ask tenants to stay vigilant, especially when returning from a trip out of town. If they suspect they or their belongings might have been exposed to bedbugs while they were away, tell them to contact the maintenance staff before bringing suitcases and other trip items back into their apartment.

4. Pests can spread from unit to unit
Apartments share walls, noise—and pests. When one unit has a problem, other units are often affected too. That makes it even more critical to educate all your residents about taking the proper precautions, and periodically reiterating that message with friendly reminders.

5. Management should be notified early and promptly whenever a resident detects a problem
If pests aren’t reported, they can quickly lead to an infestation. Encourage your residents to report any pests as soon as they spot them.

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Preparing for Peak Leasing Season

Peak leasing season generally takes place during the second and third quarter of the calendar year. It’s also when a multifamily property should be performing at its highest level by bringing in revenue and attracting new tenants at a higher rate than slower months of the year. Being ill-prepared for peak season can almost guarantee a property playing catch-up for the rest of the year chasing lost revenue dollars, and as a result, negatively affecting overall returns on investment.

In a recent article from National Real Estate Investor, author Scott Wickman, regional vice president of Western National Property Management, highlighted some essential techniques to use before peak leasing season that can boost a property’s performance in terms of value, revenue, and tenant retention/attraction.

Click here to see the entire National Real Estate Investor article and learn how to take full advantage of peak leasing season