Seattle and Washington State have some of the most progressive regulations and energy codes in the country. Often these codes are frowned upon by developers and the design community as overbearing and costly. I understand how mounting regulations add to the cost of housing and the ability buy and upgrade existing buildings. Often well-intentioned codes and regulations sideline new projects and stifle the renovation and upgrade of existing housing stock. How can we turn the tables and profit from these new codes and regulations?
Whether you are developing new or upgrading the old, renters are more savvy than ever before. Not only do they want a dog run and a roof top social club they want to know that you are making an effort toward reducing the effects of climate change, reducing indoor contaminates, and want to benefit from the cost savings associated with that as well. Tenants can benefit in multiple ways, with smaller electric bills, improved climate control, healthy air, reduced chemical exposure, and lower vehicle fueling costs.
Newer technologies in building envelope design bring energy savings, improved aesthetics, healthy air, brighter spaces, reduced noise, and a connection to the outside world. Energy savings achieved through super insulating, air barriers and triple pane windows provide considerable energy cost savings for tenants.
New siding systems with a variety of components allow for breathing and drainage space between the siding and the wall for trapped water vapor and bulk water to escape, reducing the dangers of rot and mold in the walls.
European style tilt and turn windows provide reduced air leakage but at the same time allow for the venting of fresh air through a secure inward tilt of the window. Window extrusions with reinforcing steel allow for over-sized fenestration that bring more light into the units and connect residents with nature or urban activity while minimizing the noises that can aggravate the mind and reduce healthful sleep.
Reduced energy costs, bright units, fresh air and quiet will reduce tenant turnover and the massive costs associated with that.
Building HVAC controls can help to manage owner costs especially in owner paid for utilities. Retirement homes, dorms and other forms of aggregate living can achieve better efficiency with well managed central boilers and in-unit monitoring. Sensors can be installed to turn off or reduce heat when windows are opened. Smart thermostats can limit the tenant’s ability to drive up costs by sending energy out the window. Smart thermostats are becoming a manager’s window into the activities within the unit and alert management to high levels of VOCs and carbon emissions.
As we reduce energy consumption in buildings, we increase the capacity for electric vehicle charging. All energy reduction improvements, whether they be energy a tighter envelope, lighting replacement, low flow water aerators or high efficiency windows will help increase the available electric capacity for charging. Many buildings may only support a few chargers today, but proper planning can allow for hundreds of chargers in the future without the significant capital expense (hundreds of thousands of dollars) of additional electrical infrastructure. Each dedicated charging space commands between $50 and $100 in additional rent and smart apps recover the cost of electricity.
As the costs rack up government incentives, utility incentives and infrastructure reduction can help to reduce the pain. Financial incentives are available for creating a tighter building envelope, improving the insulative values of your windows, installing low flow plumbing fixtures, and installing EV chargers. Microgrid technology can reduce amperage fees and the added cost of electric capacity for car charging in new buildings.
Smart developers and design professionals are reducing turnover costs and increasing rents by giving the tenants what they want, low-cost electricity, bright/ comfortable units and low cost fueling for their vehicles. Be the property that residents make their long-term home!
Northwest Partners provides a comprehensive evaluation of your new or existing building to help you take advantage of state-of-the-art technologies and incentives to make your building ever the more profitable. Contact us for an evaluation of your plans or property and let us help you achieve something amazing.