Category Archives: Water Conservation

Increase Asset Value with Water Conservation Retrofit

It’s no surprise that multifamily properties often have high water consumption. Resident habits, pools, laundry rooms and sprinkler systems all contribute to increased usage and as a result – costly utility bills.

Common reasons for high water usage:

  • Residents often aren’t aware of leaks or don’t report them when discovered – 20% of all toilets leak at any given time.
  • Water conservation tips aren’t provided to residents (many residents see no relationship between the amount of water they use and their cost to live in the property).
  • Older fixtures.
  • Poor or aging plumbing.

Managing a property’s water expense varies based on the individual owner as well as city and state regulations. An owner may choose to invest in a submetering system that measures each unit’s actual consumption. If a submetering system is not an option or outside of the owner’s budget, an allocation method may be used to calculate usage and distribute charges among the residents. For some properties, such as affordable housing, residents are not billed for their water usage which can pose a heavy burden on already taxed budgets.  An effective water conservation program not only reduces consumption but has the potential to lower monthly water bills by up to 40%.

How an Affordable Housing Community Saved $500,000

An affordable housing client faced an increase in residents along with a decrease in funding and grant support. The management team decided it was time to explore solutions that would conserve both resources and dollars. The solution: Minol’s Water Conservation Program.

More than Shower Heads and Flappers

Minol developed the Water Conservation Program to minimize excessive water consumption within communities. This unique and innovative program utilizes a combination of high-quality components and a proven methodology developed more than 30 years ago.

The evaluation process to identify eligible properties is complimentary and begins with a Minol team member analyzing specific property survey information and 12 months of water usage. As the team identifies properties that need help, Minol rebuilds property components at its own expense through its Pay-Out-of-Savings Program. Minol’s investment is recovered through the savings generated, which is typically within 12 months. “The Pay-Out-of-Savings component was a key differentiator from other water conservation programs we had researched. We saw savings within months of implementing the program,” said a client representative.

Program Implementation and Results

The client provided property and water usage information for 162 properties with 15,007 units to Minol for evaluation. The Minol team identified 31 properties with 3,418 units that qualified for the program. The client chose to implement their water conservation plan in four phases. All toilets were retrofitted with highly-effective toilet flappers, while low-flow showerheads and aerators were also installed.

The team is very pleased with the results Minol’s Water Conservation program has yielded for their communities.


Will Your Property Qualify for Pay Out of Savings?

The criteria below are typical qualifiers. A simple survey and analysis can determine if your property qualifies. 

  • Property is older than 5 years
  • More than 100 units
  • Owner pays water (or water is allocated)
  • Water/sewer bills are more than $250 per unit annually

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Top 10 EASY Ways to Save Energy in Common Areas

Preparing for another winter is not something we want to think about while basking in the last days of summer, but it pays to plan! The Farmer’s Almanac forecast was spot on last winter and it looks like a cold winter is in store for many of us in 2014. Preparing for colder temperatures is essential to avoid budget busting utility bills for your common areas such as hallways, gyms, lobbies and business centers.

  1.  Sealing the building envelope (windows, doors, entrance ways and ceilings) is essential to energy and cost savings. Lack of proper insulation is a significant factor in common area heating and cooling loss. winter-outlookAn easy thing to overlook is proper insulation. This can often be done in-house very inexpensively by rolling out new insulation in ceiling spaces. Proper ceiling insulation can save as much as 20% on your heating and cooling bills.
  2. Maintaining central systems is critical. Because heating and cooling accounts for up to 56% of your building’s energy cost, make sure the HVAC is running at peak form BEFORE winter hits. Even if you need to pay an expert to do a winter checkup, it will be well worth the expense in energy savings and verifying your system can handle the upcoming chill. Tips for HVAC preventative maintenance.
  3. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that windows account for up to 25% of a building’s energy loss. The proper use of awnings, blinds, insulated curtains, UV window tinting in southern exposures with large expanses of glass, as well as the sealing of air gaps can have a significant impact on energy loss through windows. While windows with an Energy Star rating is ideal and can have a huge impact on your bills, it is often cost prohibitive for properties without proper budgeting.
  4. The Energy Information Administration (EPI) estimates that 21% of electric bills are related to lighting. Upgrading lighting to energy efficient bulbs is something to consider before the darker days of winter are here. There are many ways to do this inexpensively without resorting to a “capital improvement” level expense. Tips for maximizing lighting efficiency.
  5. Motion sensors are probably the lowest cost and easiest, instant energy saver in common area spaces. Why leave a light on in the model unit, gym or storage areas if no one is in there? Investing just a few hundred dollars in these devices can give you a rapid return on investment.
  6. Resealing doors with new weather stripping and capping unused power outlets are another way to stop the cold from sneaking in. Another place to address in common areas is any vent that central fans or unused air conditioning vents that meet the exterior of the building. When closing the vent is not enough, install shutter seals on the inside of the vent and make a note to remove them in spring.
  7. Phantom power or vampire load refers to energy used by equipment and appliances that are idle. Large appliances, office equipment rarely used and computers left plugged in overnight can account for as much 10% of your electric use. Conservation-TipSimply unplug rarely used items. You cannot find an easier, cheaper way to save energy!
  8. Replace appliances in common areas and offices that are more than 5 years old with Energy Star rated products. That old refrigerator may still work but it is costing you more in electricity annually than a newer, more efficient model. The same holds true for that gargantuan office copier from the 90’s in your leasing office.
  9. Programmable thermostats are AMAZING! These Wi-Fi thermostats can be easily installed, set up and programmed from anywhere. Program them to turn down the heat or A/C during evening hours. You can save as much as 10% or more in HVAC usage.
  10. Water conservation/leak detection is a commonly overlooked opportunity to save as much as 25% or more in water waste.  For example, after 5 years a toilet that was a 1.6 gallon per flush creeps to a 2+ gallon flush!  Have an experienced technician or plumber recalibrate the flush mechanisms. Also, faulty/cheap toilet flappers degrade quickly and leak over time. Replace them at least annually and use a better grade of product.  Lastly, replace old faucet washers that cause drips and aerators with low flow devices.

By taking time out this fall to do this energy savings work you may have a different conversation with your owners when it’s time to review the financial statement.  Instead of facing the heat of “Why are you over budget in utilities”? You will have the opportunity to explain how you achieved such great savings. And that would be a far cooler conversation by far!

Water Rates Poised to Rise Further as Utility Debt Grows

Water rates, which for some U.S. customers have more than doubled since 2000, are probably going to increase in the short term as companies struggle with rising debt and the need to spend on infrastructure, according to a Columbia University report.

Utility debt increased on average 33 percent from 2000 to 2010, while water rates rose 23 percent, a report by Columbia’s Water Center concluded. For a third of the more than 1,000 utilities surveyed by the American Water Works Association, debt and rates gained more than 100 percent in the time period.

“The problem of escalating debt and rising rates is not a problem limited to a handful of poorly managed utilities, but includes many well-run utilities,” Ed Pinero, head of sustainability for North America at Veolia Environnement SA (VIE), said in a statement today. “Many of today’s water managers are operating in an old framework that needs to be re-examined for the 21st century.”

Water infrastructure in the U.S. needs at least $1 trillion in investment to repair and replace systems, according to a report released in March by the American Society of Civil Engineers. The group gave U.S water infrastructure a barely passing D grade, citing almost 240,000 water main breaks annually and an average reservoir age of 52 years.

The report suggests companies should improve operational efficiency, focus on environmentally sustainable water sources and explore alternative rate structures.

Veolia Environnement, Europe’s largest water company, is one of several companies and organizations that fund the Water Center.

By Peter Ward – October 14, 2013

Bloomberg

Leak Detection

Detecting leaks isn’t always as easy as identifying a leaky faucet. Silent leaks that occur in toilets, hot water heaters, walls and floors are the most devastating and costly to a property. Most properties don’t know these leaks are occurring until they receive a substantial water bill and either have to absorb the expense or pass back to the residents.

Utilizing LeakDetect™ technology, the Minol team can help identify costly leaks in apartment homes before they impact your bottom line.

· Real time leak detection for properties submetered for water.

· Detect leaks in both occupied and vacant units.

· Avoid disputing large resident bills and losing revenue through courtesy credits.

· Receive daily, automatically generated emails with leak detection alarms to designated recipients at your property.

· Applicable for all Inovonics Wireless Based Systems.

For more information about Leak Detection, please contact:

Marie Harvey – Sales Analyst

salesteam@minolusa.com

888-766-1253 ext. 138