RealPage hosted the annual Energy Summit, the only educational conference focused solely on utility management, on March 9-10, 2022. Over a jam-packed two days, industry experts shared their insights on innovations on multifamily sustainability, and how owners and operators can take advantage of these best practices.
What’s so important about sustainability? Why is the return on investment big?
Sustainability-focused buildings are more effective and resilient, and it’s simply good business sense! Sustainability projects increase net operating income (NOI), support achieving corporate ESG targets, and address capital improvement backlog. Software integrated assets (such as energy management enabled by IoT) in multifamily buildings can generate, store, and use energy to increase new revenue streams that improve NOI.
Did you end up missing the conference? Don’t worry, below are some of the biggest takeaways around turning utility expenses into sustainable value for all stakeholders.
1. Multifamily Sustainability is a Big Opportunity
Multifamily sustainability has the potential to play a major role in reducing emissions. Did you know: there are 18 million multifamily housing units in the U.S., and one in six American households lives in a multifamily building (learn more here)? Since buildings overall account for over 70% of U.S. electricity consumption, grid-interactive efficient buildings (GEBs, which are buildings optimized for energy efficiency and electricity demand flexibility) could reduce 80 million tons in annual CO2 reductions by 2030. This might be a really big number to process, so to give a better idea, this is about the annual emissions of more than 50 medium-sized coal plants or 17 million cars.
The great news for energy efficient innovations is that the U.S. Department of Energy Loan Programs Office brings new technology to commercial scale through the Innovative Energy Loan Program. Through their $40 billion in low-interest rate debt financing, more buildings can benefit sooner from innovation for greater sustainability, affordability, and comfort. Some of the technology areas of interest include, but aren’t limited to:
- advanced grid integration and storage (like demand response programs)
- distributed energy projects/virtual power plant (like community solar)
- innovative efficiency/net zero (like the STRATIS Smart Building Smart Energy)
2. Benchmarking Will Benefit You, Guaranteed
Owners and operators wonder, “Is benchmarking really necessary?” This is an understandable question, because why would they need to know other properties’ metrics on top of their own?
A comparison with similar properties allows property owners to better understand their own data. Knowledge is the first step to action steps, and benchmarking is a tool of improvement for multifamily sustainability. The act of benchmarking alone reduces consumption.
Sustainability benchmarking will catapult you and your portfolio forward as multifamily sustainability becomes necessary rather than a “nice-to-have.” It’s a competitive edge, as more residents prefer to live in a sustainability-oriented apartment. Multifamily residents are becoming more concerned about climate change and want to do their part as responsible citizens. All stakeholders can reap the benefits of better utility management.
Do you want to explore more about benchmarking? Start strategizing your winning strategies for benchmarking this year and beyond with this webcast, Benchmarking: Your Game Plan for What’s New in ‘22 and Beyond .
3. Let’s Talk Trash: Don’t Forget About Waste
Energy efficiency improvements are often the focus of multifamily sustainability, but don’t overlook the advantages of great waste management. Within a multifamily community, the trash enclosures see the most traffic, even over amenities like glittering pools or gyms. Contaminants in the recycling bins, pickups that don’t fit resident behavior, and lack of recycling programs can easily overwhelm the trash enclosures, residents, and property staff.
These issues aren’t only frustrations, but also can also be major expenses. Bulky items, contamination fees, and overpaying for pickups can cost a property hundreds or thousands of dollars per month. But, multifamily solutions like RealPage’s Smart Waste can aid in rightsizing your waste operations and get back thousands of dollars.
The current state of trash: A majority of multifamily residents have access to recycling, but the other 40% don’t. However, that number continues to decrease as organizations like the Recycling Partnership and other efforts improve recycling throughout the country.
Composting is another area of waste management that is seeing greater adoption. When offered together with recycling, quality control of composting can take it to the next level by not only reducing contaminants in recycling, but also breaking that down into compost. The spread of composting seems encouraging, as the state requires people and organizations to separate organic material (food and yard waste) from other garbage as of January 1, 2022 (Senate Bill 1383).
The future of waste management: As recycling continues to grow, regulation across the board may become the norm. As this happens, property staff must engage residents as partners in recycling efforts. Continuous education and communication are key to success, as 60% of units turnover each year at different times, and recycling can be new and confusing to some residents.
More and more investors, owners, operators, and residents are becoming aware of the need for taking utility management to the next level, and taking action. We’re really excited and optimistic about the state of multifamily sustainability, and its future.
Did you miss the Energy Summit? Check out This is Smart Livin‘, a mini video series about the digital transformation of multifamily buildings. Some of our guest speakers also spoke at the Energy Summit!
STRATIS®, a RealPage Company, creates smart apartments and intelligent buildings and is the only platform of its kind built for the complexities of multifamily and student housing. STRATIS is installed worldwide across the U.S., in Japan, the UK, EU, and Latin America. STRATIS now serves hospitality, retail, and small to mid-size commercial, as well. STRATIS is an Inc. Magazine “Fastest Growing Company in America” and a Top Ten Entrepreneur Magazine “Best Company in America.” STRATIS was recently acquired by RealPage to enable STRATIS Smart Building, a more connected lifestyle, and unleash hidden yield through new revenue streams.