How Can You Reduce Your Property’s Carbon Footprint?

New Orleans--First Step? Find out what your property's carbon footprint is.

Courtesy: Flickr Creative Commons User David Spender

New Orleans–The first step to reducing the carbon footprint of a property is to find out what the carbon footprint of a property is in the first place, according to expert panelists at a workshop titled ‘Reducing your property’s footprint,’ held at the National Apartment Association’s conference in New Orleans last week.

The panelists, Dimitris Kapasis VP of Energy Management Solutions at American Utility Management and Lou Schotsky, assistant VP of Product Strategy at Equity Residential, then provided several ideas to assess and improve the green standing of a property.

Schotsky started out by saying that managers/owners have different motivations for keeping their properties’ carbon footprint in check. “The rise in CO2 and temperature changes, which result in changes in climate could result in the collapse of ecosystems which is a motivation for some,” he said. “For others it is more economic and political and the impact of international treaties on the federal and local level. You could ascribe to either or both. It doesn’t matter because the solutions are the same.”

There are numerous carbon footprint calculators on the web such as Carbonneutralcalculator.com, but Schotsky suggests getting a consultant, because the sites are more effective for individuals.

He outlined the strategy to reduce a property’s carbon footprint:

  1. Energy consumption
  2. Buying renewable energy credits
  3. On site clean (er) generation

Kapasis detailed each of the points. “There is tremendous opportunity to reduce energy consumption at the pool and spa. Use a pool cover because 70 percent of energy is lost by evaporation. Reduce water temperature because a rise of one degree in temperatures means 10 to 30 percent more energy consumed,” he said.

He also recommended the use of solar power water heaters, which is about $10,000 for an average system. The payback varies based on a variety of factors. He also suggests looking at alternative energy options such as solar: photovoltaic, thermal; wind: compact vortex wind turbines; geothermal: water source heat pumps, fuel cells: natural gas, landfill has, hydrogen as well as on site generation.

“It is a common misconception that microgrids are an extremely interesting and complex opportunity just coming to the market,” said Kapasis. “It is actually a real opportunity that people are taking advantage of today.”