With news of droughts and fires dominating the headlines, it seems water conservation is a hot topic. If you’re a landlord or property manager, you’re likely concerned with how you can save energy and money with efficient methods. Here are a few ways to do just that:
Monitor your water sources
Are the appliances in your properties operating at optimal efficiency? If not, consider toilets that use less water and opt for low-flow faucets in kitchens, showers, and bathrooms. In addition, high-tech irrigation systems and tank-less water heaters can reduce the water tenants use without compromising their quality of life. That translates to energy savings because it takes power to deliver water.
On that note, our smart irrigation technology actively monitors water usage on your property, identifying ways to converse water and prevent waste. For example, it can shut off water flow if a leak or break is detected. In addition, users can adjust water usage to account for rainfall. The technology also senses soil moisture to prevent root rot.
Last, Smart Rain’s technology empowers landlords and property owners to save thousands of gallons of what would otherwise be wasted water. No matter the size of your property, over-watering, evaporation, and runoff can drive up your water bill fast, not to mention it’s wasteful. Smart Rain’s irrigation technology puts you in the driver’s seat so you can control exactly how much water you use when you use it, and where you use it.
Weatherize your units
Energy leaks that are easy to identify – and fix – should be addressed as soon as possible. Think caulking and weather-stripping windows and doors. Installing storm-proof windows and insulating attics, basements and other storage spaces can also help. These measures can provide a protective barrier between the property and inclement weather.
Your property’s roof is an under-utilized resource. What exactly do we mean? From solar panels to community gardens, your roof can be a multi-dimensional energy-saving structure. Enter green roofs. Both visually striking and functional, a green roof— also known as a living roof — is an extension of a building’s existing roof and a green space. Some of these designs are installed on-site as one unit, but the majority of them use modular formats. Each section is arranged and placed together, often with an interlocking grid, to cover the structure.
From a practical standpoint, green roofs can assist in stormwater management. Consider the fact that a traditional commercial roof retains about a quarter of rainfall, while a green roof, on average, retains 80%. This is an advantage because decreasing the amount of stormwater runoff yields many environmental benefits. Think less stress on the sewer systems and fewer pollutants entering the water table.
Interested in learning more about how Smart Rain can improve your operations? We welcome your questions and concerns: (866) 595-4649
What exactly is energy benchmarking? Simply put, energy benchmarking is a way of measuring how your properties use the all important resources of power and water, and also analyzing how their usage compares to other properties of similar size in the local geographic area. It also takes into consideration the historical performance of the building itself from an energy usage standpoint. Obviously the goal is for the energy efficiency of the structure to be trending in a net positive direction. At the moment, many municipalities don’t require condos and co-ops to formally report their overall energy output. However, as new environmental regulations continue to be passed into law, all that could change – and you need to be ready.
Why is benchmarking taking hold?
Mid-rise and high-rise buildings are coming under more scrutiny than ever before in relation to how they use energy. Energy conservation is becoming a higher priority for certain municipalities – especially those prone to droughts or power outages.
How is benchmarking reported?
Unfortunately, benchmarking isn’t just about filing a report once or twice a year and forgetting about it. Benchmarking regulations could allow prospective buyers a view of how your properties’ energy usage stacks up against the competition. And if they don’t like what they see, it’s “bye-bye” sale or rental agreement.
Benchmarking doesn’t have to be your undoing
There are tons of ways to save energy – and win the benchmarking battle. Benchmarking is useful for state and local government property owners and facility operators, managers, and designers. The good news is that there are numerous ways to take benchmarking data and improve upon it month over month and year over year. One potential way to save energy and water is to increase the efficiency of your irrigation system. Smartrain technology can be an important arrow in the quiver of any aspiring benchmarking pro. Feel free to contact us or visit our website for more information today!
When you add a tree to your property, you not only increase its value and add beauty to the landscape — you leave a legacy. Because the tree you choose may last many lifetimes, you want to make sure it’s the right one. There is a huge variety of different types of trees that you can choose from. Much the same as with any decision about your yard, there are definitely both pros and cons to which kind of trees you decide to plant.
Why do you want it?
When picking out your tree, one of the first questions you need to ask yourself is, “What will I be using the tree for?” Are you trying to fill in bare patches around your façade? Want to plant a hedge to keep nosy neighbors at bay? Do you want to watch flowers bloom every spring and take your breath away? It is important to assess the why behind your trees prior to making any final decisions.
Do you want a tree that is close to full size quickly or are you okay to wait until much later? The slowest-growing trees are often the longest lived, so keep that in mind. If you’re looking for something you can plant quickly, and have nice-looking flowers to enjoy fast, that’s fine, too. But don’t forget that these trees may not last for generations, if that’s something you were planning on.
If you’re going to put a tiny tree in your front yard next to your one-story ranch, that works nicely. Going for that huge oak instead? You may want to reconsider. Scale your tree to the size of the structure it’s closest to, and your entire property will look proportionate.
How much mess are you comfortable with?
Let’s face it, certain types of trees require a lot more maintenance than others. Depending on the climate you reside in, a large number of tree species will completely lose their leaves in the fall. The size of the leaves will help determine how much cleanup will be required as smaller leaves can be harder to rake up and dispose of. Certain types of trees shed bark seasonally as well. This is another thing that needs to be raked up and disposed of. Another important question is how does the tree seed? Many species of trees will leave a trail of seeds underneath them during certain times of the year as well. You may also consider how much water a certain type of tree requires, and how you might go about regulating how much water it gets.
The addition of trees to your yard is very rarely a bad decision. Just be sure that you are planting the right type for your circumstances.
Much of the country is currently experiencing drought conditions. While it is always important to do all that you can to conserve water, during these perilous times it becomes an undertaking of paramount importance! Here you can find helpful trips related to preventing waste when it comes to property management.
Start off with savings
The first thing you can do to reduce waste is not to let it get in the front door in the first place. Choose – and encourage residents or tenants to choose – products with less wasteful packaging, or do business with companies known to be environmentally-friendly.
Do the electric slide
Don’t slide those defunct electronics into the trash. This “e-waste” is becoming epidemic as more and more individuals and companies rely on technology to carry out daily tasks, as well as regularly upgrading devices. Instead, donate or recycle or personal computers, laptops, cell phones, TV’s, DVD players, and video game consoles.
Go to – or throw – a “green” party
New ways to go green are always popping up. Why not learn some of them (and meet your neighbors or network) by attending or hosting a “green” event? Such events cover different ways of recycling, how to manage or reduce waste and more.
A large portion of the country is currently experiencing drought conditions. It is never a smart move to be wasteful with the precious resource of water, but during perilous times such as these the conservation of water becomes an undertaking of paramount importance. Wasteful usage of water hits you in the wallet as well. The effect is felt exponentially by property managers when they have tenants who are not conservation minded. The Smart Rain irrigation system saves property managers a boat load of water and money.
These are just a few ways that a property manager can keep their property value and appearances up while keeping expenses down.
High temperatures and drought have gripped the SLC area yet again this summer, leaving some landscapes parched and dried out — and water conservation has emerged as a hot topic. Across the country, communities are already in or at risk of drought conditions, which makes it essential for all of us to consider ways to reduce the amount of water we use.
At the same time, lawns can become especially thirsty when the heat rises and care strategies don’t keep up. We believe you can have a beautiful lawn and preserve water at the same time. Here are a few commercial lawn maintenance tips for keeping your property green and lush while conserving one of Earth’s most precious resources.
The type of grass you have comes with unique watering requirements to be aware of, and if you water too much or too little, it will die. Have you chosen a grass type that thrives in your region? If not, you may require a little extra maintenance and supplemental water to keep your grass green. Know whether you have cool or warm-season grass and how it responds to times of drought.
Smart commercial building water usage starts with regular tuneups of your sprinkler and irrigation arrays. In many cases, broken sprinkler heads, clogged lines, or other common defects waste water and prevent it from getting where it needs to go. These issues can be fixed with basic maintenance. If you really want to be ahead of the curve, you can also opt for a smart watering system from SmartRain. With moisture, rain and irrigation flow sensors, you’ll never need to worry about over- or under-watering your business or residential lawn.
It’s wise to give your property a watering when it can do the most good. Try not to water in the middle of a hot, sunny day, as most of the water will evaporate instead of sinking into the grass. Some choose to run their sprinklers in the early morning or late in the evening to maximize their water usage. Watering is best in the cooler hours before 9 AM or after 7 PM. Avoid watering when temperatures drop below 40 degrees.
When seeking to increase water efficiency in your buildings, it’s important to remember that pooling water and shallow irrigation sessions do little for the overall health of your lawn. The goal is to deposit about an inch of water across your whole expanse of lawn. If some spaces are receiving more or less, you might end up with a splotchy lawn. You should water deeply, evenly, and infrequently so that the roots of the grass experience stress, which will cause them to grow deeper in-between watering sessions. If water starts to pool, turn off the sprinklers and allow the lawn to absorb it before continuing. Continue this until the lawn has been watered an inch deep.
Litter isn’t only unsightly, but it can also cause dead patches on your lawn if it sits on the grass for too long. To maintain a greener commercial lawn, make sure you do regular sweeps of your premises to look for garbage laying on the ground.
Depending on the type of facility you manage, it may not be practical or possible to keep people off the grass. If you can, though, you will avoid the bare spots caused by constant foot traffic. Be careful about how much stress you put on your grass and never drive cars or machinery over it.
If your property is regularly visited by four-legged friends, it’s more than likely that they will relieve themselves on your grass at some point. Unfortunately, urine and waste can cause dead patches. If you don’t want to prohibit animals from your property altogether, be diligent about cleaning up after cats and dogs if their owners don’t do it themselves.
During the scorching summer months, it’s important that you don’t cut your grass too short. If the grass is too short, the sun will turn it brown more quickly. Even worse, it can kill the root system and cause diseases. It is recommended that you cut a third of the grass length or less each time to keep the soil moist and promote deeper growth.
Yes, you heard right! Using a timer doesn’t account for the state of your lawn and is current needs. Instead, opt for a smart irrigation system from Smart Rain that can monitor the soil and account for current weather conditions in determining when and how much water to disburse. Our controllers do all the work for you!
If you are a property manager, you take pride in your properties and want them to stand out in the neighborhood. One way to accomplish this is to make a more concerted effort to achieve green commercial buildings. Not only will going green help you stand out; it will also save you money, improve your reputation, and help the environment.
One of the main reasons people don’t recycle is because they don’t have a way to do it, or they think the act of recycling itself is too time consuming. If your property association doesn’t have a recycling plan in place, now is the time to speak to your supervisor or the property owner about starting one so that people are more likely to recycle.
If a recycling program already exists, see what you can do to simplify it. Make it easier for residents to recycle their plastic, glass, and newspaper by giving them easy-to-identify colored bins for each recyclable. You could even consider door-to-door pick up.
If you have a common area where events, parties, and conferences are hosted, use it to host guest speakers who talk about recycling. They can go over the benefits, impact on the environment, and easy ways to incorporate “green” behavior into residents’ everyday lives.
As a property manager, you probably already purchase a lot of your supplies in bulk, which cuts down on waste. In addition to that, look for bulk items that are packaged in environmentally friendly materials to begin with. Double win!
Approximately 45% of all paper used in office settings is thrown away after a day. Did you know that property managers can reduce expenses and help the environment by going paperless? It’s easier than ever to do so in this digital world. Invest in software that automates bills, invoices, work orders, letters, and notices. Switching to electronic methods may also increase your productivity!
LED light bulbs are known for saving 80% of the energy wasted with traditional bulbs. As a property manager, this is an energy-saving opportunity you can’t afford to miss out on. LED bulbs will require less energy to light your property, which means you can drastically reduce your monthly energy bills and help the environment in the process.
Solar energy is becoming one of the most popular green building trends among property managers. It reduces utility bills and provides tax breaks that translate to thousands of dollars in savings annually. In fact, companies using solar panels can receive up to 25% in after-tax returns.
What’s more, you save time and effort with solar energy because solar panels require very little maintenance and have up to a 45-year lifespan. The only thing you need to do is inspect and clean them a few times a year to make sure there isn’t debris blocking the absorption of sunlight.
The EPA reports that 50% of the water you use to water your grass is wasted through evaporation or runoff. To cut down on this waste, partner with Smart Rain. Our smart irrigation system uses cutting-edge technology to ensure your lawns always get the right amount of water — no more, no less. We can help you set a custom schedule for watering your property that will optimize absorption and keep your premises green while reducing water waste.
You can also be a lot greener about the other ways you maintain your grass. For instance, composting your grass clippings is essentially like getting free fertilizer for your lawn — fertilizer that will make it look greener year-round!
Your sprinkler system isn’t the only water waster you likely have installed around your property. Toilets, showers, and sinks often produce more water than is needed for someone to flush or wash their hands, for example. The EPA found that over a quarter of older toilet models use three to seven gallons per flush compared to the 1.6 gallons needed.
You can combat the water waste in your facility’s bathrooms by replacing your outdated appliances with low-flow faucets and high-efficiency toilets, which won’t disrupt your tenants’ routines.
If you want more tips on how to save money and energy and turn your large-scale properties into green commercial real estate, contact Smart Rain today. We’ve saved property managers millions of gallons of water, and we want to do the same for you!
Did the recent pandemic take a toll on you? Has it been difficult to get back into the daily grind? Spending time outdooors has been proven to be therapeutic and reduce stress levels. A healing garden is a traditional cure for the ailments of busy modern life.
The idea of adding landscaped spaces that promote tranquility is becoming popular with homeowners and other property owners in busy urban areas. At hospitals across the country, landscape architects are being asked to create special gardens that promote healing for patients.
The work of one such landscape architect, Mikyoung Kim, who designed The Crown Sky Garden on the 11th floor of the Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, is highly renowned. A second garden, Project Ripple, was designed and completed by Kim for the Jackson South Community Hospital in Miami.
The theory behind such gardens is to add natural spaces that are quiet and inviting, which can induce feelings of wellness and relaxation. The garden can be large, such as the 5,000-square-foot Crown Sky Garden, or scaled smaller to fit into the backyard of a home in a suburban neighborhood.
Design plans that interweave natural features and sculptural elements can lay the groundwork for a pleasing landscape that serves as an outside shelter from stress. Gardens can be created to blend in seamlessly with the area, or stand out as a restorative oasis separated from busy urban environments.
A home garden or other landscaped area can allow the owner to get outside of daily activities by providing a place to sit, think, read or enjoy a quiet meal.
To design an outdoor room or space, selectively plant trees and other foliage to create a natural barrier between the garden and the outside world. Tall shrubs and vine-covered trellises are both also good choices to create such spaces.
If the garden blossoms with interactive experiences, a person can participate in naturally soothing activities such as cultivating herbs or tending to flowers.
A well-designed landscape might also have plants selected to attract birds, squirrels and other animals. Berry-producing bushes, for example, are a great choice for adding attractive colors and food in the yard.
Sculptural elements — such as benches, stone pathways, birdbaths and water features — invite garden visitors to sit or stroll while adding visual interest.
You may also want to add heating lamps, stone fireplaces and other elements to make your garden inviting year round. The goal is simple: To make your yard a tiny bit of paradise. Once you have designed your healing space, be sure to install the latest in water control technology to keep the area lush, vibrant, and serene.
Now, more than ever, water conservation is critical. Not only can it help the environment, it can also save money for the homeowner or property manager and can improve the health of the yard. Water conservation is something that every household and business owner can contribute to.
Here are some tips to help your household conserve water through the hot summer months.
Indoor water conservation
Turn off the tap when brushing. Leaving the water running while you brush wastes up to four gallons of water each time. Same goes for hand-washing, which is on everyone’s minds these days.
Shorten showers. Shortening your shower time by a minute will still get you clean, and save up to 150 gallons of water every month. Keep a bucket in the shower to collect some of the cold water that comes first. You can use it to water your plants indoors or outdoors.
Keep drinking water in the fridge. Instead of running the faucet until the water is cool enough to drink, keep a bottle or a pitcher in the fridge. This means not only water conservation, but colder drinking water.
Fix leaky faucets and toilets. A slow drip from a single bathroom or kitchen faucet can waste several gallons of water every day. Replace worn washers, or replace the whole unit with a washerless faucet with a lifetime guarantee.
Plant native flowers and grasses. Plants that are native to your area and that are adapted to our hot, dry climate, and need far less water than most turf grasses.
Don’t over-water. Most lawns need 1 to 1.5 inches of water every day, which takes 20 to 30 minutes of sprinkling. Overwatering can actually be harmful to the lawn, putting it at risk of fungus and disease. Excess water will run off onto the driveway or street, a complete waste. To measure an inch of water, put an empty, clean tuna can on the grass when you begin to water, and turn off the sprinkler when the can is full.
Choose a smarter watering system. Smart Rain offers both hardware and software that changes the game when it comes to watering large patches of lawn. Our smart water systems work with our Smart Rain SmartApp™ to inform you about water flow, moisture levels and more.
Water conservation does not need to be complicated. With a few simple steps that will save the homeowner money on monthly water bills, everyone can achieve water conservation. Get in touch with SmartRain today to learn more.
Proponents of conservation ask people to turn the lens on themselves to understand the impacts each of us has on our environment. Many little things we do throughout the day help reduce use and strain on resources — turning off lights, unplugging electronics, choosing to recycle, using technology to manage irrigation on your properties. And little things add up to big things.
Keep these tips in mind as you ponder ways you can make a difference:
Saving water saves energy (and more!)
We’ve mentioned in previous blogs the inextricable tie between water conservation and energy. The less water you use, the less energy goes toward treating it, heating it and pumping it. And the less energy used for these processes, the less air pollution is generated. This circles back around to protecting the health of all of our natural resources, not just on our property but also regionally, nationally and globally.
Review Your Company’s Conservation Plan
Training and educating staff on ways to conserve energy should be a mandatory. If you don’t have an existing conservation plan that is active, now is the time to start brainstorming. Call your team together to come up with ways they have personally incorporated such approaches into their lifestyle, or study the tactics embraced by a business you admire. Earth911 shares these eight ideas businesses can use to “build a culture of conservation:”
1 – Provide Filtered Water Common Areas. No more individual plastic water bottles in the trash! Definitely include recycle bins for plastic, just in case. Consider providing each employee with a company glass when they’re hired to encourage use.
2 – Encourage Electronic Communication in Lieu of Printed Materials. Can it be said in an email or text? If yes, err on the side of using technology to get your point across.
3 – Choose Your Lightbulbs Wisely. Some are more energy efficient than others. As the consumer, the ones you choose will help determine which ones are produced. Use the power of the purchase!
4 - Embrace the Telecommute. COVID-19 showed us that WFH (work from home) is not only possible, it’s often preferable. Limit office work to essential workers and tasks. This will help cut your overhead on utilities, saving you money and energy at the same time.
5 – Get Some Plants. Bring a bit of the outdoors in. Plants are aesthetically pleasing and mutually beneficial for our breathing.
6 – Power Down. Though there’s been debate about this in the past, it is a good rule of thumb to power off your electronics while not in use.
7 – Make Recycling Bins Accessible. If people can’t find them, they can’t use them.
8 – Reduce Travel. Another lesson learned from COVID-19 – we have lots of ways to communicate virtually. No need to jet set or drive when you can hop on a video platform and connect with people near and far.
Get Residents Involved (Property Managers – this one is for you!)
Be sure all residents are aware of the existing policy, including any recycling do’s and don’ts, conservation tips and ongoing regulations related to yard or lawn maintenance. Some property managers choose to leave residents in the dark about these things. But a solid partnership and commitment by those that live on the property is really the only way a plan turns into action. Consider having residents or neighborhoods create an energy committee to keep communication open and encourage participation in green living.
Put systems in place
Instead of constantly monitoring individual sprinklers, let Smart Rain’s cutting-edge irrigation system save you millions of gallons of water, just like it’s done for other properties. Contact us today to see how!
Do you ever get your water bill and wonder how on Earth you and your family can use so much water in just one month? Many families don’t realize that leaky faucets and toilets and other water-gobbling problems and habits can cost them a lot of money each year. The good news? Many common water wasters can be fixed quickly and inexpensively. Here’s what to look out for:
Little leaks. A dripping faucet can send gallons of water down the drain every day. It’s estimated that 10 percent of all homes have leaks that waste 90 gallons or more per day! Make sure your faucets don’t drip.
Inefficient shower heads. Installing new, water-saving shower heads can have a big impact on your water usage and your bill.
Taking long showers. Speaking of showers, reducing your shower time by just a few minutes each day can save hundreds of gallons per month. So can NOT running the water the entire time you’re brushing your teeth.
Problem toilets. Older toilets can use a lot more water than newer models. Toilets manufactured prior to 1993 can use two to six gallons more than toilets being manufactured today! Most toilets being made today use only 1.6 gallons per flush.
Leaks can be another issue. Take a few minutes to inspect each toilet in your home; you can typically hear and see evidence of leaks. Speaking of toilets, don’t use the toilet as a wastebasket. That wastes up to 5 gallons per flush.
Using your hose as a broom. Using the garden hose to wash down sidewalks, instead of using a broom, can use more than 10 gallons of water each minute!
Hand washing dishes. You can use up to 27 gallons of water per load when you wash dishes by hand versus as little as four gallons of water with a newer dishwasher. That’s because most people wash dishes with running water. If you are washing dishes by hand, fill your sink with water and dish soap and wash your dishes. Run the faucet only to briefly rinse the dishes.
Landscaping with plants and trees that use a lot of water. One-third of residential water use goes toward watering the lawn and garden. Native plants and drought-resistant lawn varieties require less water. Thankfully, there are better ways to water lawns these days, such as smart irrigation systems from Smart Rain. At the touch of a button, you can control your irrigation systems from anywhere in the world, any time of day. With our smart app, you’ll be able to get notifications of issues and be able to adjust for changing weather conditions. Learn more here: https://www.smartrain.net