Thursday 04 June 2020

The first priority for any property owner or manager is to operate their buildings cost effectively while providing residents with all their required services. There’s lots of buzz lately about “going green”, and the cost saving benefits that come with it. Analyzing where you spend the most money in building and operating expenses, can help identify possible cost and environmental savings. By properly addressing mounting maintenance expenses in certain problem areas, you will not only increase your portfolio’s value, but you can increase energy efficiency and reduce waste as well.

Street trees are a terrific improvement to enhance the exterior of a property. In 2001, Trees New York studied the economic impact of trees in commercial districts in New York City. The study demonstrated that green infrastructure complements the economic vitality of commercial districts, while providing regional benefits that improve the quality of life for people living in the area. Healthy commercial districts influence merchants’ decision to rent commercial space, attract customers and encourage them to stay longer and return. Learn more about planting and caring for street trees at

An increase in repair costs may mean that repairs are not solving underlying problems and money spent is being used merely as a band-aid.  If an item has been repaired or replaced more than twice in recent months it’s a good idea to take a closer look at the source of the problem, where there may be something causing the frequent breakdown.  For example, looking behind water-soaked walls before patching and plastering may reveal a slow leak in a pipe.  Fixing that leak will prevent more water damage and you can put your joint compound and trowel away for a while.  Maintaining O-rings and aerators in faucets can prevent leaks and reduce water flow, thereby conserving water and lowering water bills.

Speaking of repairs, consider purchasing the most reliable and durable replacement component or part, to avoid repeat equipment failures and the need to pay another labor charge.  It’s easy to be seduced by the lower costs of the lesser quality product, but the long term costs of future replacements and additional repairs far outweigh to short-term savings. As an added benefit, newer, high-quality components are often the most energy efficient ones.

Water usage can be a major expense for a building.  Whether it’s the direct water usage cost or the cost of managing water in your property, either can lead to escalating costs if there is a leak that goes unreported and unrepaired. A leaky fixture, toilet or tub can waste thousands of gallons of water annually.  Fixing a few simple leaks can save thousands of dollars on your water bill each year.  If you see your water usage escalating, check your meter during a period when water’s not being used. If the level changes, you have a leak. When renovating bathrooms, select low-flow showerheads, faucets and toilets. The WaterSense website provided by the EPA is a wonderful source of information for ways to reduce water usage.
Reducing your property’s energy usage is an obvious way to save money and go green.  If you feel that your energy costs are altogether too high, explore the free energy audit services that are offered by local utilities.  The Pratt Center for Neighborhood Development has an easy to use calculator that can help you figure out whether your building operates efficiently or if it’s an energy hog.

Looking for Energy Star rated equipment is always a good idea. ConEd has in interesting guide, titled Energy Efficiency – Multi-Family Residences Can Save by Upgrading to High-Efficiency Equipment, available online at
Also, encourage your residents to look for Energy Star rated window air conditioners so they can save money on their utility bill. Additionally, the building’s electric service will not be unnecessarily drained during the warm weather, avoiding brownouts.

Going green can save you money and lower your property maintenance costs. Tackle a category that seems to be costing you more than it should and take advantage of the low and no-cost audits and services available to you.

Catherine Barton is Managing Director of The Pinwheel Group, a sustainability-focused consultancy with all the skills of a traditional marketing and branding company.

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