The benefits of a sustainable community will be noticeable to both your tenants and to you, as property owners/managers.
If you’re anything like us, you’re thinking about the future—about sustainability, responsibility and community. As an environmentally aware apartment/condo owner or manager, you’re doing your best to up your sustainable community and reduce your building’s carbon footprint.
How can you encourage your tenants to live green, reducing your overall ecological impact, while encouraging mindful habits and routines that make the world a better, healthier place?
- Your team needs to provide your tenants with the education and tools necessary to practice green habits.
- Your tenants need to consistently take part in a sustainable community.
With a bit of research, organization and a plan, your property management team can reshape how your tenants live within their shared community.
Getting Sustainability Off the Ground
First things first, you need a plan. Arrange a meeting with your management team detailing the changes you intend to implement. They need to be on board, and the best way to do so is to involve them in the process. Give them research assignments with a deadline for the next meeting. Ask them to gather information to learn how other community living organizations approach sustainability and to explore sustainability program benefits. When your team understands the importance of a green tenants plan, they’ll be more enthusiastic about implementing the details. Remember, you must also do your homework. A good leader is one who works with his team.
Use this list of sustainable practice ideas to develop your own green tenants plan:
- Reduce water usage
- Reduce energy usage
- Install ENERGY STAR® rated appliances
- Upgrade windows and insulation
- Encourage tenants to keep unit temperatures reasonable
- Community gardens
- Build and provide tools necessary for tenants to work together on community gardens/farms
- Provide tips for reducing garden/landscaping water use
- Supply proper disposal and recycling services
- Try organic waste and composting
- Provide specific recycling containers
- Host friendly competitions and sustainable community events to keep tenants motivated and involved
- Offer great prizes
- Coordinate food and clothing drives and other community events
Once your team completes their research and presents their findings to the group, it’s time to construct a plan. Delegate responsibilities to the various members of your team.
Don’t forget (and we know you won’t) to budget for each sustainability effort. Create a priority list so your team has a series of goals to work toward. Certain tools, services and programs can be implemented almost immediately, but others have initial startup costs that may take time before they can be arranged. As the savings begin to accumulate, the longer-term solutions can be met. Eventually, you and your team will have built a more sustainable community which can continue to grow.
The Trick to Tenant Education
Now it’s time to make your tenant community aware of your sustainability plan details and explain why your new programs and services are so important. You’ll need to offer a series of educational materials and classes to get everyone living in the community on board.
Understand that different people have different ideas and values. There will be people who are excited about your efforts to greener living, but there will be others who are less willing to participate. Create newsletter communications to regularly remind tenants of the program benefits and to encourage tenants to jump on the bandwagon at any time.
People generally respond to positive reinforcement, so be sure to spell out the benefits your sustainable community plan will offer your tenants. Get them excited to practice sustainability by clearly defining the benefits and financial savings they will experience by getting involved. As a general rule, people are concerned about themselves and their families first. So get them interested by detailing how they as individuals will benefit.
Once your tenants are on board with sustainable living practices, you can begin to offer classes and workshops showing them how they can live more green in their own homes. Community projects boost community mentality. By working together, people will feel a stronger sense of community and neighborhood. No longer will your tenants feel like “a bunch of strangers living together in a building.”
We All Win
The benefits of a sustainable community will be noticeable to both your tenants and to you, as property owners/managers. Higher occupancy rates, higher rental rates and lower utility costs are just a few long-term budget improvements brought on by your sustainability plan. Your tenants want to live in a quality community and will not only pay a bit more to do so, but will take pride in their own involvement. Community gardens can help feed your tenants, while building a sense of neighborhood. Competitions and recognition of those tenants going above and beyond improves overall mood and morale.
Ultimately, your tenants will save money and live in a community they’re proud to be a part of. Your apartment/condo management/ownership business will experience greater profit margins and everyone can take pride in their homes as a part of a positive, sustainable change.