Improving the sustainability of your strata complex can not only save energy but also can reduce your current running costs and possibly future proof your building against rising costs. The largest proportion of a building’s energy consumption and running costs are those that come from shared services. Some of these services can include, lifts, air conditioning, gyms, lighting, pools etc. Solar power and motion sensors are usually what comes to mind when talking about sustainability, they are great initial steps to take on the road to sustainability, there is a plethora of options to look in to implementing in your community. In this article, we will discuss 10 ways to increase your sustainability in your body corporate.
- Check your lighting
An incredibly simple thing to do is check your light bulbs. Most modern buildings feature lights in the common areas that automatically shut off when nobody is around. The choice of lights themselves is also important; switch out the incandescent bulbs to Light Emitting Diode (LED) and Compact Fluorescent Light (CFL) bulbs.
Apartment buildings that have a central hot water system, this alone can account for a staggering 50% of the energy used in the common property. Poorly insulated pipework loses up to 70% of this energy. To reduce this cost, consider insulating your hot water system and pipes, as well as checking for and repairing any leaks.
A pool cover is absolutely an essential accessory to reduce energy use. For heating, consider solar as the preferred option, followed by gas. If your pool pump does not carry a 5-star rating, consider upgrading it.
- Heating and cooling
Most systems for heating and cooling have been specifically designed to work best at given settings. Often, these settings will be changed by somebody (setting the temperature slightly lower in summer or higher in winter), doing this will result in a significantly increased energy consumption.
It is best to consult the system’s designer or maintenance professional to possibly recalibrate the system to its optimal energy efficiency setting and make sure filters and such are up to scratch.
Another option to investigate is installing insulation, glazing windows and sealing draughts.
Switching fans off when not in use and assessing whether fan speeds can be reduced but still achieve the necessary circulation, can greatly reduce energy consumption and costs.
Yes, a recycling bin is wonderful, but what about trickier items to recycle like batteries, light bulbs, printer cartridges and nasty chemicals such as oil and paint? Creating recovery points to collect these items creates an easy option for people to take advantage of.
- Community garden
Creating a community garden, compost heap for organic material and possibly even a worm farm is a creative and incredible way to reduce waste and enrich the soil that can be used for gardens surrounding the building also.
- Investigate cost-saving sustainability programs
Specialist programs like National Australian Built Environment Rating System (NABERS) for apartment buildings can make sustainable strata living more realistic. NABERS is similar to the rating system for commercial buildings that became mandatory in 2010. Government certified assessors can walk through your building benchmarking, identifying area to save on energy and water wastage and in the process save you money. There is also plenty of other programs that are run by the government, check to see what your local council provides.
- Renewable energy
Rooftop solar panels are the most popular and common thing to implement in any property and can help lower electricity costs and act in part as an insurance policy against ever increasing electricity rates. It is possible to install solar panels in strata titled buildings, however, for many strata properties there are numerous barriers and hoops to jump through for lot owners to install solar panels on either their own property or common property.
- Fix existing issues
All conversations surrounding the topics of sustainability and reducing costs must include maintenance. There is no point in implementing better energy practices in your community if you are not proactive about assessing basic and important repairs to be done.
Communities can get ahead of the curve by ensuring that all energy using equipment is up to date in its maintenance and ensuring things like air conditioner units and hot water pipes are maintained regularly to ensure efficiency. For more information check out our other articles on sustainability:
Author: Kaylyn Burton