ENERGY STAR in the Apartment Industry is Good Business
In today’s environmentally conscious world, making a statement about energy management or, better yet, having an ENERGY STAR® label can elevate an apartment community to a better light when potential residents are seeking a new place to live or at lease renewal time.
However, under current Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) guidelines, only certain multifamily properties – specifically high rises – are eligible to obtain an ENERGY STAR rating, that little blue sticker synonymous with lower electric and water consumption. But non-high-rise properties may take advantage of EPA’s energy management program just by enrolling, says Steve Heinz, founder and CEO of EnergyCap, which publishes energy management software.
ENERGY STAR is Good for Business
For any property type, being associated with ENERGY STAR in some way is just good for business.
“There are a lot of individuals and companies that really value the environmental awareness, and ENERGY STAR makes a good statement to that,” said Heinz, who touted the program recently at RealWorld, the annual RealPage user conference, in Las Vegas.
Heinz says apartment property owners should sign up as an ENERGY STAR partner to get the ball rolling even if the rating isn’t available to them. The process is simple: familiarize your property with paperwork on the EPA website, sign the document (preferably by a senior company leader) and appoint someone to be the point of contact.
The commitment is soft but does make a statement to the organization and the apartment property’s audience, customers, and employees.
“You’re not pledging to the Federal Government that you’re going to reduce your energy use by ‘X’ amount,” he said. “You’re just saying that my organization believes in the objective of the EPA and ENERGY STAR program to become more energy efficient and environmentally aware.”
Four Advantages to Becoming an ENERGY STAR Partner
Heinz says that becoming an ENERGY STAR partner or obtaining a rating, the crème de la crème of environmental consciousness, has its advantages for apartment owners and managers:
Boosts Public Relations
“It’s very good for public relations purposes. It makes a great story, and makes the statement that senior management is concerned about energy efficiency and that senior management has taken steps to build and operate this facility in a manner that’s worthy of an ENERGY STAR label.”
By becoming an ENERGY STAR partner properties become eligible for annual awards and recognition by the EPA. The program’s annual awards banquet generates good press coverage and is a public relations booster, Heinz said. “If your organization is very aggressive in energy management efforts, you could possibly win an annual award which makes a very strong statement.”
Increases Resident Awareness
An ENERGY STAR rating helps increase occupant awareness of energy management by having a plaque or label in the lobby continually making that branding statement to your residents and those walking through the door for the first time looking for a new place to live.
Increases Property Value
Various studies have proven that the rating increases the commercial value of a building. “It will increase lease value, at least somewhat as various studies show that. The tenants will pay more to be in a building that they know is ENERGY STAR building because they they’re going to save on the utility bills.”
Property owners, regardless of whether they have a rating, can benefit from the benchmarking systems available through ENERGY STAR’s Portfolio Management System (PMS) and Automated Benchmarking System (ABS).
PMS helps property owners manage an attaché of buildings and their energy usage. PMS is a repository for energy consumption data that properties can use to compare energy usage to prior years.
ABS is an electronic interface that makes transitioning energy data from one system to another much easier, eliminating hard keying of utility bills. There are about 50 different software programs that interface with the portfolio manager via ABS.
Whether or not a property achieves a rating and acquires that little blue sticker, becoming an ENERGY STAR partner is worth the effort, Heinz said. “There are a lot of individuals and companies that value environmental awareness and ENERGY STAR makes a good statement to that effect.”
What energy management steps are you taking on your apartment properties? Have you signed on to be an ENERGY STAR partner? Share your experiences in the comments below.