With spring cleaning currently underway—and Earth Day celebrations not too far behind—managers of manufactured housing communities have the perfect opportunity to ramp up green initiatives.
Small actions can have a big impact on the property’s carbon footprint—and a positive effect on the residents’ well-being. Additionally, environmentally friendly upgrades to the community can help both residents and property managers save money in the long term.
Manufactured homes themselves are an eco-friendly alternative to conventionally built homes. Since new manufactured homes are constructed to strict HUD code requirements, standardized production means less material waste. Additionally, the environmental impact is significantly reduced since the units are factory-built and shipped to the site—while construction materials used to build traditional homes are transported separately to the development site.
Here are six green changes managers should implement at their communities to make them more eco-friendly:
1. LED lighting. One of the fastest and relatively inexpensive green changes managers can implement is to replace the old lightbulbs with energy-efficient ones. LEDs use less energy than incandescent bulbs, have a longer lifespan and provide a brighter light. And, according to Matthew Davies, founder of Harmony Communities, using LED lighting “very much pays for itself”.
2. Start a community garden. Create a small garden where residents can grow their own fruits and vegetables. This will also be beneficial to the residents’ mental health, as gardening has been proven to reduce anxiety and promote relaxation.
3. Encourage composting. This is an excellent way to decrease the amount of organic trash that usually ends up in land fields and turn it into fertilizer for the community garden. Composting will make residents be more aware of how much waste they produce and even encourage them to take steps in reducing it.
4. Native landscaping. Populate the outdoor common areas with native plants and trees that require less time and money to maintain. This small green touch will improve the community’s aspect and almost instantly boost the residents’ morale.
5. Upgrade to greener utilities. Whether it’s switching to renewable energy providers or installing solar panels, choosing a more sustainable source of power is always a good idea. “Help your residents assess whether it makes sense to change their heating from electric to natural gas,” Davies recommended. “Running a typical 1,500-watt space heater costs $108 per month, but with a heating system that’s running properly, (residents) can cut that bill in half,” he noted.
6. Ramp up inspections. In addition to regular inspections, property managers should encourage residents to examine their homes. “For $10, you can pass out colored tablets that your residents can drop in their toilets to see if the bowl changes color, which indicates a leak,” Davies suggested, noting that a leaky toilet can waste 200 gallons of water per day.
Harmony Communities is among the manufactured housing operators that have implemented environmentally friendly solutions at their properties. The company began installing solar panels at its Californian communities in 2012, with the goal to both save money and help the environment.
For example, at its Santa Nella Mobile Home Park, solar panels helped cut electric bill costs by 87 percent in 2019. The cost savings are projected to amount to more than $3 million over the next 25 years. In addition to that, according to Davies, the solar panels will offset nearly 640,000 pounds of carbon dioxide every year.
The company also runs common-area infrastructure on timers during off-peak hours—known as “load shifting”—which allows for the utilization of renewable energy and reducing the need for fossil fuels.