The benefits of lowering your HOA’s carbon footprint are immense – here’s how to help homeowners adapt to a green HOA
The pressure’s on for HOAs to be eco-conscious now more than ever. Associations have access to energy-efficient tech that they can apply to new housing stock, and at costs that are more affordable than ever.
Still, an HOA is only as green as its homeowners are. Short of installing improvements each time housing stock is between owners, you can’t really force a community to take action to reduce their carbon footprint.
What you can do is lead by example. If your HOA prioritizes a low carbon footprint as a community, then the homeowners in your community will follow.
What are the benefits of a green HOA?
If you’ve been thinking about going green, 2020 is the year to do it. As an organization, you’ll experience benefits like significant cost savings. HOAs that go green might enjoy:
- Lower utility bills
- Lower maintenance costs
- Tax incentives
Any savings translates into an increased reserve fund, which means more money for special projects, unexpected expenses, and maintenance of eco-friendly infrastructure.
Also, green HOAs are more appealing to a subset of homeowners who want to live an eco-conscious lifestyle.
Those homeowners are looking for benefits that only green HOAs can offer. They include:
- A close-knit community that bonds over a common interest and passion
- Lower HOA fees due to lower operational expenses
- Policies that allow and encourage green homeowner practices, such as installing solar panels, composting, or collecting water in rain barrels
Here’s how you can encourage your HOA community to lower your collective carbon footprint.
Calculate your HOA’s footprint
Your existing clients won’t always know the importance of their carbon footprint until you tell them.
The average 3-person household in the United States uses 48 tons of CO2 per year, one of the highest rates in the world.
Use a carbon footprint calculator to find the impact of your HOA’s community. Then, tell them about it. It can be a mass mailing, a community meeting, or you can save it for the monthly newsletter.
What’s important is that you use illustrative terms to show how many metric tons of CO2 your community emits – and encourage homeowners to see exactly what their own impact is. You can embed a carbon footprint calculator in your e-newsletter or website to make it easy.
Negotiate discounts and financing for energy-efficient improvements
The problem with energy-efficient home improvements is the up-front cost. This cost always repays itself in time, but it’s common for homeowners to put off improvements that they see as non-essential due to cost.
HOAs are in a unique position to help homeowners afford green housing improvements. You already have relationships with suppliers and contractors, so use that leverage to negotiate discounts or financing for clients who are part of your HOA.
Work with green contractors
You have the power to choose what contractors you work with, so exercise that power to choose eco-friendly contractors.
These contractors focus on using materials and products that are energy-efficient and lower the household’s carbon footprint. For instance, a green contractor may offer:
- Energy auditing to recommend specific improvements that would reduce cost and carbon footprint
- Energy Star certified technology to reduce costs on faucets, cooling units, appliances, and more
- Geothermal heat pumps, which use ground-cooled water to maintain heat and cooling
- Smart temperature control, including pre-set thermostats that reduce heating and cooling costs
- Smart lighting, which regulates light use to save energy and increase illumination
- Triple pane windows for insulation and heat-saving
Allow (and encourage) water-efficient landscaping
It’s common for HOAs to have rigorous landscaping standards that require full coverage and specific types of grass. Maintaining a full lawn has consequences on the community and environment, including:
- Hundreds of gallons of water use per year
- Fertilizer runoff that ends up in local water sources and causes problems
Instead, let your clients plant drought-resistant grass types, or lead the way by planting these grass types in common areas. You should also consider allowing rain barrels, which reduce water usage considerably if you operate in an area that gets enough rain for collection.
Spotlight green community practices in the HOA newsletter
The HOA newsletter is a powerful tool, and now’s the time to use it. Your newsletter is the most effective place to reach all your HOA clients at once. It’s the perfect place to drop an announcement about new green initiatives within the HOA.
Not only that, but the newsletter is a great place to praise your clients for reducing their carbon footprints.
Some green community practices that you can highlight in the newsletter include:
- Green housing improvements
- Green landscaping practices
- Participating in green community programs, like community gardens or clubs
- Reducing water usage
Homeowners in your HOA will appreciate knowing that their efforts are seen, and clients who aren’t participating might think twice about their own carbon footprint.
Educate your HOA community
Not every homeowner in your community will have the same interest or knowledge about carbon footprints. But if they knew, would they be interested in reducing their carbon footprint?
Community managers can schedule seminars, workshops, and other HOA events that go over the basics of green homeownership. You can educate your community on principles such as:
- Green home improvements
- Green landscaping
- Reducing waste
- Saving electricity
- Saving water
When they have all the information, your clients can take action to reduce their carbon footprint as a community. It’s your job to tell them why and how and get them interested in participating.
Launch projects to build community interest
Community-based projects can help you build enthusiasm for your HOA’s new green initiatives. The exact projects depend on factors like your HOA’s demographics, interests, and needs.
Still, some projects that any green HOA could benefit from include:
- Community compost station
- Community garden
- Community mulch pit
- Community recycling area
You may also choose renovation projects, like overhauling the community building with smart lighting and low-flow taps or re-landscaping the community square with drought-resistant ground cover.
There’s no better way to build community passion than bonding over the same project and watching it come to life.
It’s not easy to reduce the carbon footprint of an entire community when you’re managing an HOA, but you can do it with the right services at your fingertips. VendorSmart can help you hire contractors, consultants, and other vendors. We manage vendor hiring by offering services like sourcing, vetting, risk management, and more.