Race to Reduce: Toward a Greener Property

Nov 28, 2012

Today marks the second annual Race to Reduce awards, which recognize and celebrate landlord and tenant green leaders in the Toronto region’s office building sector, as well as the unique partnership they’ve embarked on since launching Race to Reduce, and the results of their collaborative effort to date. The program is a four-year challenge to reduce total energy use in participating office buildings by at least 10 percent.

As stated on Natural Resources Canada’s Office of Energy Efficiency (OEE) website, Race to Reduce promises to make great gains in conservation: “Forty major landlords and over 450 tenants have registered 150 buildings. Over four years, a 10 percent reduction in these buildings will reduce carbon emissions by 6179 tonnes and produce $25 million in energy cost savings and $12.5 million annually after that.”

There are many sound reasons to green your property. In addition to the obvious environmental and cost-saving benefits, both short-term and long-term, there are a number of other perks for reducing your property’s ecological footprint. For example, OEE offers a range of federal grants and incentives under its ecoENERGY Retrofit program to homeowners, businesses, large industries and public institutions to help them invest in energy- and pollution-saving upgrades.

In honour of today’s Race to Reduce awards, PropertyVista has put together some tips and resources to help you green your building, including how to urge tenants to join you in conserving energy.

Race to Reduce: How to Help Tenants Go Green

Engaging tenants in reducing energy consumption in your building is crucial. The property is under your management, but, ultimately, each unit is under tenant control. It’s important to create buy-in to ensure their cooperation.

Here are a few simple conservation tips, which you can post on your tenant portal:

  • Turn off all the lights when you leave the room.
  • Turn off your computer when it’s not in use.
  • Replace incandescent light bulbs with energy efficient compact fluorescent light (CLF) bulbs.
  • Unplug electronic devices and re-chargers when not in use.
  • Use curtains to keep the sun out during the summer, and to keep the cold out during the winter.
  • Rather than cranking up the AC or heat, use a fan to circulate cool air in the summer and warm air in the winter.
  • Use cold water to wash clothes. Not only does it use less energy than hot water, but it’s also easier on your fabrics.
  • Hang-dry your clothes.
  • Rinse dishes in a plugged sink or dishpan full of clean water; it’s a lot more energy efficient than rinsing them under running water.
  • Report leaky taps and toilets right away; just one drip adds up to dozens of wasted litres of water each week.
  • Cook and re-heat food with smaller appliances instead of your stove, and let food cool down before putting it in the fridge or freezer.
  • Cycle or walk to work whenever you can.

Provide valuable resources

You can also include links to helpful resources on your tenant portal. For example, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) offers an interactive website to help people save energy and reduce their environmental impact. And the Center for Sustainable Economy (CSE) has created an online Ecological Footprint Quiz that helps people determine how their personal energy use contributes to their ecological footprint.

Celebrate successes

When your tenants get involved with greening your building, it’s important to recognize their contributions.

  • Post tenant testimonials and success stories on your tenant portal and in e-newsletters.
  • Organize a party or event to bring tenants together and reward them for their environmental efforts.

Setting a Top-Down Example

In addition to getting your tenants on board with greening their units, there are many steps you can take as a landlord or property manager to ensure a more environmentally friendly building – regardless of your tenants’ choices.

  • Upgrade the weather stripping on windows, and install storm windows.
  • Seal and insulate warm air ducts in unheated spaces.
  • Reduce the temperature in heated parking garages during the winter.
  • Promptly repair reported leaks.
  • Install low flow showerheads and faucets.
  • Replace existing incandescent or older technology fluorescent lighting with high efficiency fluorescent lamps and ballasts, and reduce the number and/or wattage of incandescent lamps in common areas.
  • Install energy efficient light emitting diode (LED) lamps in Exit signs.
  • Upgrade insulation when making wall repairs.
  • Encourage e-billing and electronic communication (e.g., e-newsletters vs. printed newsletters).

For additional tips, the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) provides a list of water and energy saving tips for multi-unit residential buildings. And of course the Race to Reduce website offers a number of valuable resources for both tenants and landlords.

Building Toward a Greener Future

Energy conservation is a serious matter. By taking steps to address the issue, you can make significant improvements to your building, and empower tenants to help maintain a greener living environment on your property.

One easy way to go green is to move toward a paperless office, and incorporate greener, web-based technologies, like online application software and a tenant portal for tenant management.

Good luck with your efforts, and congratulations from PropertyVista to the Race to Reduce award winners!

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