Is Your Condo Building Really Ready to Go Green?

Building Ready to Go Green

Is your condo building thinking about going green this year? And no, we don’t just mean adding a healthy coat of green paint on your condo’s walls.

Here, green is a blanket term for those initiatives your condo corporation

implements that are typically healthier for the environment. With green becoming more popular for condo buildings and residents
to ensure a higher quality of life, along with offering a number of health benefits, it’s safe to say that your building will eventually implement green initiatives. So, what should your board consider if green is a word popping up at your AGMs?

Transitioning to Green

Installing LED lightbulbs, to the City of Calgary’s new Green Bin Program all the way to installing solar panels and energy efficient windows – all are considered green initiatives. How then does your condo board begin 1) to understand how green your building currently is, and 2) what they can do today and in the long term to benefit from becoming green?

  • Sign-up for a Green Assessment
    Energy Efficiency Alberta offers assessments of your building, helping to identify where you’re green, where you’re not, and what easy fixes you can do right away to start implementing green initiatives or products. If you register online, someone will come out and do an assessment on the property. Typically, this assessment can result in quick small wins for your building
  • Form a Green Committee
    Don’t leave all the researching, analyzing, decision-making, and implementing to the condo board. Rather, consider having the board form a sub-committee with non-board member unit owners in the building (helmed by a board member). This sub-committee will be responsible for sourcing what green initiatives make sense to implement now and what ones make sense to begin saving for. Types of skillsets that work best for this sub-committee include: engineers, building professional, finance, architect, and strong researchers. While these are not necessary to have on the committee, they help bring a more holistic and objective approach in breaking down the information to make a sound decision for your condo corporation.
  • Blue & Green Bin Programs
    Remember – simple gets done. Are you making things simple for your residents to recycle and compost or do they have to lug their items halfway across your building (or even outside), worrying the whole time about their bags splitting? Think about what your board can do to make it easier for residents to partake in these City-wide green initiatives.
  • Assess the Cleaning Company & Materials
    Rather than looking at doing an overhaul of your entire building, start with your vendors. Going green doesn’t have to be large sweeping changes where you install solar panels on the roof and four-inch thick panel windows that transform condensation into stored energy, which your building then uses for electricity (although, that would be pretty cool). It can be as small as using a cleaning company who uses environmentally-friendly products. Ask your cleaning company what products they currently use and see whether or not they are environmentally-friendly ones.
  • Paperless Communications & Technology
    We love technology at Catalyst. Having an online portal for our condo buildings has helped streamline management requests, along with more easily sending communication to the residents we’re responsible for. While technology has allowed us to be more responsive, both in service and in communication, a happy side effect of this is that our paper costs, and therefore our clients costs, are minimal if any.

    Note – it’s still important to know how to support those residents who are not comfortable with or even use technology. This may not be necessary in the future, but in today’s condo market, it is.

  • Green Building Initiatives
    Look at what your city currently has in place for their green building initiatives. For instance, the City of Calgary has implemented a Green Building program to help reduce the environmental impacts and long-term costs. Specific areas that this program encourages condo buildings to look into include:
  • Roof alternatives, such as solar panel collectors or green roofs
  • Geoexchange, using geothermal heat to heat your building
  • Sustainable design / building materials

To learn more, contact your local government to see what initiatives they have in place.

But First, Do the Math

While we can offer all these great tips for transitioning your building to a greener one, it’s crucial that you still do the math. Going green for your building absolutely has benefits. However, while you’re determining whether or not a specific green initiative makes sense for your building, simply crunch the numbers.

Transitioning your building to a green one is an investment now for long term savings. It’s not a cheap or quick fix. For some, the ROI of going green can come back within a four-year period. For others, it can take 12 – 15 years before they see savings.

Look at the overall goals of your whole condo corporation and see if they align with the economics required for your specific green initiative. If the economics to install a solar panel roof don’t work, then look at what small changes you can start making. For instance, exchanging light bulbs in common areas – lobby, parking garage, gym, etc., to LED lights, are more economical to implement ASAP and won’t hurt the bank account.

Once your board makes the decision to start implementing green initiatives, sit down and do the math to determine which ones make the most sense for your building today and for the long term.

Not sure what initiatives make sense for your building? Curious about what other condo boards are implementing in their condominiums? Join the conversation at Alberta Condo Owners for Change and ask away!

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