HOA Tips for Going Green

by AssociationLawGroup

Do you want your homeowners association to become more eco-conscious? Here are some tips for improved homeowners association management and great eco-friendly practices.

Are you interested in making your homeowners association more environmentally friendly? Along with reducing your impact on the environment, eco-friendly practices can also help the association's budget and improve the atmosphere of the community. Here's a look at some homeowners association management tips to improve the level of eco-consciousness in your community.

Image credit: Chrisinplymouth

Use Eco-Friendly Landscaping

Every homeowners association wants beautiful landscaping and lawns for residents, although this often has a substantial cost. There are many ways to lower the cost of maintaining landscaping in the community while also reducing the impact on the environment.

Florida Native Landscaping
Florida Native Landscaping

Start by using an irrigation system with  timer and water-efficient sprayers to avoid wasting water. Some companies also sell rain sensors for an irrigation system, which shut off sprinklers when it begins to rain. Use indigenous or even drought-resistant plants that require less water, fertilizers and pesticides over non-native landscaping. The United States Department of Energy estimates that eco-friendly landscaping can save between 30 and 50% off monthly utility bills.

Get Rid of Gas-Powered Tools

Do your homeowners or property management personnel use gas-powered tools and lawnmowers? Encourage them to switch to electric or non-toxic propane mowers, which use a cleaner fuel that produces less air pollution. Try educating homeowners about the benefits of the switch through the association website.

Use the Power of the Sun

A Florida HOA can save a great deal of money each month by investing in solar-powered lighting and fixtures as well as low energy appliances in common areas. Most pools in an HOA can even be equipped with a solar-powered water heater or generator. While solar lighting does have an up-front cost, it pays off in the long-run by dramatically reducing operating costs.

Install CFL Bulbs in Fixtures

CFLs (compact fluorescent lights) have up to 10x the lifespan of an incandescent light bulb and use only 1/5 of the energy. These bulbs can be used in pool light fixtures, interior lighting, street lights and more to lower the association's electric bills every month. They're also very affordable. Check with energystar.gov to find out if there are any rebates in your state for switching to CFL bulbs for even more savings. A Florida HOA, for example, may qualify for an on-going instant rebate through the City of Tallahassee.

Green Building Construction

If your HOA is planning to renovate common areas or construct new buildings, choose energy-efficient and eco-friendly materials whenever possible to save money and reduce your carbon footprint. This includes choosing Energy Star appliances, LEED-certified fixtures and low VOC paint.

Reduce Paper Waste

Most homeowners association management companies are now switching to association websites and using emails when possible for billing and community announcements. Creating a website for your association also has a range of other benefits aside from cost savings, including the ability to keep residents up-to-date after a disaster evacuation and allow residents to connect through an online forum or message board.

How Residents Can Help

Do you want to help your association go green but they're not quite on board yet? There are many ways you can improve the eco-consciousness of your community and eventually convince board members to make changes. Start by informing residents in the community about the benefits of going green, either through word-of-mouth or the association newsletter. You can also do volunteer work in your community by organizing yard sales (if your association allows it) or educating residents about hazardous waste and appliance pick-ups offered by the city.

Make Repairs Easy

In communities that don't have individual bills for heating and electric, it's very easy for simple repairs like leaking faucets to get put off. Your homeowners association management team should make it easy for residents to report these problems so they can be fixed quickly by your maintenance staff, reducing the monthly utility bills for the entire association.

Check Community Association Law in Your State

Finally, check with an HOA lawyer or law firm like Association Law Group that represents associations in your state to find out if your association is under any legal obligations in regards to eco-consciousness. In Florida, for example, homeowners in an association recently won a battle with their HOA to plan a more eco-friendly lawn despite restrictions in their community. In this case, the homeowners wanted to install landscaping that used fewer chemicals and low-maintenance plants but the board rejected their request. When the homeowners resubmitted for approval citing Florida real estate law that forces associations to accept so-called Florida-friendly landscaping.

Updated: 09/17/2012, AssociationLawGroup
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Steve Kaye on 09/17/2012

Excellent ideas that everyone can use. Thank you for publishing this article.

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