Smart Score

With implementation of smart technology so prevalent among apartment communities, how do you make your offerings stand out?

Editorial Director Suzann D. Silverman
Editorial Director Suzann D. Silverman

Smart technologies have been all the rage during the past year or two, and for good reason: Building owners and operators have seen benefits ranging from cost savings to flexibility to improved outreach. It’s been easier and more effective to connect with prospects, manage amenities and find a balance between ease of access and security.

These advances have also benefited renters: They have improved prospects’ ability to find out about unit availabilities and schedule tours of communities. And they have made it easier for residents to pick up packages, admit visitors, reserve time on the treadmill or in the laundry room—the list grows ever longer.

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The list of operators investing in these features is also growing ever longer. So how do you stand out? That’s where certifications come in. Think about it: When you shop for a washing machine or a water heater, Energy Star ratings can quickly help you narrow down your selection based on energy consumption. That’s already been the case for 20 years, though it continues to be refined. Even before that, the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval provided confidence of quality. Widespread certifications by a well-noted third party offer both a means for consistent comparison and the credibility of feedback from a respected, objective judge. If you get high marks, it’s something you can market.

“Nowadays, it’s not enough to say how good you are. You have to prove it. Certification is a good way to have that third-party validation,” Etienne Cadestin, global CEO for multidisciplinary energy and sustainability consultancy Longevity Partners, told Jeffrey Steele for our November feature story, “Plugged In” (and the longer online version, “Do Smart Building Certifications Measure Up?”).

Real estate certification options continue to proliferate. Energy use and sustainable features are already being measured and publicized through such programs as Passive House, Enterprise Green Communities and LEED, as well as Energy Star. While some programs are better known outside the industry than others, they are gaining visibility.

Could the same thing happen with a smart technology score? Evaluation systems are starting to emerge, and while they may take time to grow enough to provide a meaningful measure, with the speed at which technology advances, maybe these programs will, too. Before long, consumers like me will be selecting their apartments based on a score or a seal just like they choose their washing machine. What will your rating be?

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