How Can We Become A More Eco-Friendly HOA?
Creating an eco-friendly homeowners association is easier said than done; however, CAP Management has many years of experience helping HOAs take action to improve their sustainability. As recommended in our most recent blog, Preparing Your HOA for a Future with Climate change, taking collective action with your neighbors is the quickest path to reducing your impact on the planet.
Whether you are a handful of townhomes or high-rise, your community can become a more eco-friendly HOA by working together. This cooperation will enable you to lower costs, enhance property value, and add desirable services for current and future homeowners. At CAP, we work with HOAs to address the three biggest opportunities of energy efficiency, water conservation, and improved waste management.
Numerous opportunities exist to reduce the energy of your community, whether it be your common spaces or individual homes. For example, one community of garden-style condos is replacing it’s roof and adding a solar installation to provide power to this amenity, reducing their electricity costs. Many of our HOAs are conducting energy audits through Xcel energy, learning they can add insulation, replace lighting, or electrify their boilers. HOAs should pay particular attention to their building envelope (windows, seals, etc.) to keep as much heating and cooling inside the building as possible.
Below are a list of ideas many of our property managers have employed to reduce energy use:
- Create a regular HVAC and boiler system maintenance plan to maximize the efficiency of existing equipment
- Install smart thermostats in common spaces or individual units
- Swapping out fluorescent, incandescent, and compact fluorescent light bulbs with LEDs
- Work with Energy Sage to evaluate their capacity for an on-site solar installation to generate electricity or warm their pool water
- Add reflective roof materials to reduce heat absorption from the roof
For more energy efficiency tips, check out Chapter Six of CAP’s Sustainability Guidebook.
Sustainable water management can save HOAs money in monthly water bills and avoid costly property damage from flooding. Water conservation can happen both indoors and outdoors. Water-efficient landscaping practices and irrigation techniques can reduce an HOA’s consumption. Indoors, upgrade appliances to water-efficient models. Green stormwater management can also mitigate localized flooding and better retain water for irrigation.
We encourage HOAs to dive into our Top 10 Water Saving Tips:
- Develop a leak reporting system. If a leak occurs from a shared or HOA controlled pipe, the association will have to cover the repair costs. Water damage can be incredibly expensive for an HOA, especially if water damages more than one unit. A leak reporting system can mitigate water damage.
- Create rebate and incentive programs for homeowners to install water-efficient appliances such as toilets, faucets, and showerheads. The extra incentive will aid homeowners and will benefit the community as a whole.
- Monitor and maintain water heaters and boilers to ensure there are no leaks and to check for corrosion,
- Install water sub-meters for each unit. By installing sub-meters, the HOA can track individual unit water usage and better identify leaks within the home and building.
- Conduct an irrigation audit. Work with your local water district to explore free or reduced audits. Partner with your landscaper to consider more drought-tolerant plant material requiring less watering, particularly during the hot summer months.
- Cover outdoor pools. Covering an outdoor pool will help less water evaporate and save the HOA in heating bills.
- Install flow restrictors or automatic sinks on common area bathrooms.
- Upgrade water fixtures such as toilets, showerheads, faucets, and washing machines to low-flow, water-efficient models. Check out EPA’s WaterSense for a list of products!
- Monitor the HOA’s monthly water bills and usage. If there’s an abnormal spike in usage or a price increase, check your water fixtures for leaks.
- Revise the community’s landscaping standard or remove turf grass. Colorado’s climate is changing to more semi-arid weather and the demands on the Colorado and Platte Rivers will result in future restrictions on water.
Improved Waste Management
HOAs have a unique opportunity to closely regulate, recommend and implement waste reduction strategies. Board members play a significant role in how waste is managed at a household level. The average American landfills 4.5 pounds of garbage every day. Given that 3.36 million people live in HOAs in Colorado, there is a significant potential for associations to encourage household waste diversion through education and awareness building, leveraging collective buying power, and developing sustainable waste removal.
Our Community Association professionals have worked on many waste reduction activities:
- Add recycling options and provide homeowner education to reduce contamination
- Explore composting with Scraps or other local service providers as completed at Sustainability Park in RiNo
- Create helpful flyers with the “Recycle and Not Recycle” guides
- Establish recycling champions in the community to monitor recycling bins and address issues through community-wide education
- Re-examine your waste contracts, dumpster sizes, and tipping schedule. With 50% to 70% of all waste being recyclable, you want to make sure you have significant capacity to help homeowners make the shift
By working together to create more eco-friendly practices in your community, you are well on your way to building a more sustainable future for your neighbors, yourself, and the planet.