How Mobile Inspections Can Boost Your Bottom Line & Help Save the Planet

Making multifamily companies greener through raises the quality of units, cushions assets against increases in energy costs and opens a universe of cost savings, quality-of-life improvements for residents and asset value that yield a competitive advantage.

By Jindou Lee

HappyCo Jindou Lee headshotAll over the world, business leaders are looking to join the green revolution. This isn’t just a step toward the lofty goal of environmental sustainability, but rather for the more pragmatic outcome of business prosperity and longevity. Forward-thinking multifamily companies are part of this trend because they realize that an initial green investment will pay for itself as sustainable technologies create a whole host of long-term business benefits. Beyond the obvious advantages to people and the planet, greening multifamily communities through efficiency improvements and other sustainable adjustments raises the quality of units, cushions assets against increases in energy costs and opens a universe of cost savings, quality-of-life improvements for residents and asset value that yield an impossible-to-ignore competitive advantage.

Sustainability means “continuing value,” and this is indeed the case with the multifamily industry, where studies have proven that green buildings command higher rents and have a measurable positive impact on resident health and satisfaction. And one of the best ways to make operations greener is to switch to a mobile inspection platform. Mobile platforms dramatically improve compliance when performing inspections—we’re talking between 50 percent and 100 percent—and thus better ensure the proper maintenance of critical systems.

Why Mobile Inspections Change Sustainability Management

Many multifamily businesses today still rely on paper-based checklists that that not only add to the company’s carbon footprint but can also lead to a host of other issues—traditional inspection methods like paper and spreadsheets are inefficient, ineffective and costly. Paper systems multiply expenditures and require handwritten comments that are often illegible and can create a Tower of Babel scenario without a standardized, company-wide system. Human error can lead to whole sections of an inspection skipped or missing. Excel-based systems aren’t much better, requiring hours of manual data entry and processing by busy IT teams. The old ways leave leaking irrigation systems, malfunctioning lighting sensors and flawed insulation neglected for long periods, and this slowed maintenance resolution means lower returns on sustainability initiatives.

With green technology being relatively new, and fresh innovations rolling out all the time, inspection software must be as agile as its users. A customizable platform allows proprietors to change their inspection standards and requirements on the fly across all properties. This allows inspection parameters and new green assets (such as low-flow shower heads) to be accounted for immediately. Mobile inspections also leverage the mobile platform to allow for in-line photography, creating reliable and precise visual record-keeping. Scoring systems allow each inspection line item to be given a maintenance or performance rating to determine its condition and need for repair, and managers can access or input costing information to keep track of how much an HVAC or lighting timer will cost to repair. A mobile platform turns an inefficient, hodgepodge system into a powerful standardized approach to keep green properties up to the exacting standards of review boards and residents alike.

Getting Value from Data

A mobile platform also gives green-minded multifamily companies the power to record and analyze information. The greatest benefit of mobile inspection software is that it can automatically link multifamily owners and managers with real-time information on property conditions.

Data plays the key role between just going green and maintaining sustainability. A mobile inspection platform sends all completed inspections to the cloud, where every bit of data—from individual ratings, scores and costs—are collected, collated and processed to help companies manage issues at a single property to instantly recognizing critical trends across their entire portfolio and helping managers and owners anticipate future needs. After a few inspections, management can look at the data and understand if newly installed green innovations are performing correctly, being maintained properly and are really contributing to the bottom line.

In many ways, the free market is spearheading the charge toward a cleaner, more ecologically conscious future. It’s our responsibility as multifamily industry innovators and leaders to think not only of our day-to-day profits but of creating a sustainable tomorrow. Inspections are the tool that responsible businesses owners use to oversee the day-to-day details while also looking at the big picture. When sustainability is being driven by technology, shouldn’t inspections also be part of the green revolution?

Jindou Lee is CEO of HappyCo, a San Francisco-based software company that builds mobile applications for enterprise workforces to run their operations more efficiently.