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“Living GREEN Together” Standards

RHB MAGAZINE
BY: JUAN MALVESTITTI

 

In November 2013,  the Federation of Rental Housing Provider’s of Ontario (FRPO) launched its new  “Living GREEN Together” standards as an extension of the Certified Rental  Building (CRB) Program. The goal of these new standards is to promote  sustainability by requiring property managers to follow a series of  environmental standards to achieve certification and maintain CRB membership.

 

In 2011, FRPO met with key members of the CRB Program to initiate  development of the "Living GREEN Together" standards. After getting  feedback from industry leaders who had established sustainability practices and  operated LEED-certified buildings, the association formed a committee to  develop ten new "green" standards. Its goal was to help members make  their buildings more environmentally friendly, reduce energy consumption, and  actively engage employees and residents in the sustainability process.

 

"This new set of standards is built on grassroots fundamentals  rather than a capital expenditures model," said Ted Whitehead, Director of  Certification, FRPO. "We are focused on building a culture of  sustainability across the industry, educating employees on effective  sustainable measures they can implement at their buildings,  engaging residents to be an active part of greening their apartment community,  and promoting the need to lower consumption and a reduced building  environmental footprint."

 

The "Living GREEN Together" standards  first launched to CRB Program members in Ottawa,  with cooperation from Ontario's Minister of  Energy, and have since expanded to Kingston, Mississauga and Toronto,  with more communities on the way. The program currently includes 990 buildings,  with over 100,000 suites and 250,000 tenants. All CRB Program members are  expected to comply with the "Living GREEN Together" standards by the  end of June 2015 to maintain certification and membership in the CRB program.

 

FRPO found that it was less of a challenge than  expected to get its members to comply with the ten "Living GREEN  Together" standards. Many companies have been blazing the environmentally friendly  trail for years, engaging in recycling programs, reducing their utilities  usage, pursuing green standards, operating LEED-certified buildings and  reducing their overall carbon footprint. Getting them on board with the  "Living GREEN Together" standards and convincing other members to  participate seemed to be a natural extension of the CRB Program standards.  Members also stated that the environmental standards provide them with a more  systematic and professional approach to achieving their environmental  management goals.

 

"When we learned that FRPO was developing new  environmental standards, we wanted to be a part of that, because it fits with  our approach to creating better places for people to live, work and play,"  said Alison Minato, Vice President Sustainability, The Minto Group. "For  over a decade, Minto has maintained a steady focus on improving the energy and  water efficiency of our residential rental buildings, primarily through  retrofits and mechanical system audits. We believe that to maintain the  benefits of our past efforts and be in a position to continue to identify new  opportunities, we need to take a systematic approach to managing the  environmental aspects of our business - the Certified Rental Building Program's  new environmental standards of practice do just that."

 

This feature article describes the ten "Living  GREEN Together" standards. We've gathered best practices and examples from  FRPO members who are currently participating (or planning to participate) in  the program, including Ferguslea Properties, The Minto Group, Osgoode  Properties, O'Shanter Development Company Ltd., Park Property Management Inc.,  Tandem Group, Williams & McDaniel Property Management and WJ Properties.

 

Environmental policy

Members must have a documented environmental policy.  They should demonstrate that the policy is openly available for everyone to  read or communicated to employees, residents, the public and suppliers. FRPO  has published a comprehensive list of environmental policies and standards that  small companies can emulate or borrow for their own purposes. The association  will also review the standards with each member to make sure that they  understand what they mean and how they work, and teach them how to create an  environmental policy. FRPO will also review members' existing policies to make  sure that they are compatible with the "Living GREEN Together"  standards.

 

Communicating  the environmental policy to all stakeholders is also a required part of the  standard; how they communicate the policy depends on the size of the building  and company. To inform tenants about the property manager's environmental  policy, members can use newsletters, post information in buildings and include  a copy in the new tenant information package. FRPO will also install a  "Living GREEN Together" plaque in each certified building.

 

"Members should also make their environmental  standards part of the RFP process so that suppliers know what to expect,"  said Ted. "They should state what they stand for to suppliers, and let them  know that they should stand for the same thing if they want the business."

 

 

"The first FRPO CRB Program property management company in Toronto to recertify with the Associations new Environmental Standards is WJ Properties. Celebrants (l-r) at their 7 St. Dennis Drive building {comer of Don Mills Rd. are WJ Properties Vice President Carol Weinbaum; President {and former FRPO Board Chair) Allan Weinbaum, Toronto Ward 26 Don Valley West Councillor John Parker; Toronto Tower Renewal Project Director Eleanor McAteer. FRPO President Scott Andison. WJProperties CFO Perry Fryers; Senior Vice President Neil Greenspan. and FPRO Board Chair Bill Zigomanis (Photo Nicola Betts)" 

 

Environmentally preferable purchasing policy

Members should demonstrate commitment to purchasing  environmentally preferable products and services when possible, such as cleaning  and janitorial products and services. This includes ensuring that their  organization includes expectations for use of environmentally preferable  products and services in RFPs, tenders or contracts with suppliers.

 

Companies should guide and train their staff in identifying and selecting  environmentally preferable products and services, as well as how to proceed  when these they are not available or practicable to purchase or use in their  buildings.

 

For example, Park Property Management switched to using carpet tiles in  its buildings' corridors. When removed, carpet tile is almost entirely  recyclable, whereas rolled broadloom is not. The initial installation requires  the services of a qualified installer, but building staff can complete minor  replacements. When an area of carpet is damaged, the superintendent only needs  to replace the damaged tile. Wear and tear commonly occurs in the walking path,  so only this area would need to be changed rather than the entire carpet.

 

"The cost for dumping fees and the volume of discarded broadloom in  garbage dumps wore on our conscience, so we knew we had to make a change,"  said Margaret Herd, Vice President Residential Property Management, Park  Property Management Inc. "Although the cost for carpet tile is higher, we  recognized that the long-term savings in maintenance costs and the fact that  carpet tiles can be recycled convinced us to make the switch."

 

Environmental  performance monitoring

Members are required to record environmental data, monthly or by billing  period, which includes electricity, gas and water consumption and costs. This  involves regularly analyzing the recorded data to identify abnormalities and  reduce excessive usage. Companies should also document processes to identify  actions for their staff to take when abnormal usage has been identified.

 

A number of FRPO's members installed submeters in  their rental units so that they could charge hydro separately from rent. They  found that it motivates residents to be more responsible in their hydro usage,  and has led to a significant reduction in overall hydro consumption. Reducing  the building's total hydro consumption and expense also reduces pressure on the  property manager to raise rents, which makes it more competitive.

 

"We charge separately for hydro whenever an  apartment turns over, so every year a larger percentage of our portfolio pays  separately for hydro," said Allan Weinbaum, Owner, WJ Properties.  "Given the large number of residents in the province, this will eventually  have a huge impact on energy usage in Ontario."

 

Note: Submetering is allowed in all buildings where  applicable regulations are followed. In Ontario,  electrically heated buildings that were not submetered prior to January 1, 2011  (when the Energy Consumer Protection Act,  2010 was enacted) are not allowed to submeter the heat/cool portion but can  charge for electrical power consumption of appliances, lighting and other items  in accordance with the rules and regulations. If a building owner had  submetered prior to January 1, 2011, they can submeter the heat/cool portion of  the electricity.

 

Electrical consumption

Reducing electrical consumption m their buildings is  a requirement for this particular standard. This includes replacing all  fixtures and bulbs in common areas and suites with energy efficient  alternatives, installing LED Exit signs, and replacing appliances with Energy  Star qualified appliances (or their equivalent) when appropriate. Members  should educate and inform tenants on energy reduction and electricity conservation,  as well as the proper disposal of CFLs and fluorescent lighting.

 

Companies found different ways to reduce energy  usage in their building. For example, Tandem Group plans to replace its booster  pumps because a supplier presented technology that offered significant cost  savings and payback. Their buildings currently have two 25-horsepower booster  pumps. The company will be installing three replacement pumps with variable  speed drives that operate at 7.5 horsepower each with variable speed drives.  Thanks to the efficiency of the new equipment and an Ontario Hydro incentive,  payback will take about two years.

 

"The cost savings are about $10,000 to $15,000  per year per building," said Leonard Visconti, Property Manager, Tandem  Group. "The pumps have a five-year warranty with 100 per cent coverage;  once the warranty ends, we will enter into a maintenance agreement to ensure  that the pumps are maintained properly. The Ontario Hydro incentive will cover  up to 50 per cent of the total cost."

 

Companies have discovered that electrical equipment  that includes variable speed drives, particularly boilers, chillers and fans,  offer significant potential for energy savings. Variable speed drives allow  motors to operate more slowly during off-peak periods instead of always on, and  then ramp up to meet higher volumes when necessary. O'Shanter Development Company  discovered that it could retrofit existing motors using a variable speed drive  kit. This option is much more affordable than replacing the entire motor or  unit, and provides sufficient savings in electricity to payback within two to  three years.
   

Mississauga Ward 9 Councillor Pat Saito (far right) congratulated Park Property Management's leadership for their strong commitment to FRPO's new Environmental Standards under the banner "Living GREEN Together at 2797 Battleford Rd. Park Property Management was the first property manager in Mississauga to achieve Certified Rental Building Program status. Helping pull the cord (l-r) FRPO's Board Chair Bill Zigomanis; Park Property's 2797 Battleford Rd. Building Superintendent Thomasina Debi: Property Manager Alpesh Modi; Vice President Residential Property Management Margaret Herd; and FPRO's President & CEO Scott Andison Flanking FRPO's 'Living GREEN Together' unveiled logo is WJ Properties' President (and former FRPO Board Chair) Allan Weinbaum (3rd from right) and Vice President Carol Weinbaum (4th from left). WJ Properties is the first property manager in the City of Toronto enrolled in the CRB Program to recertify with FRPO's new Environmental Standards and to receive official status within the Program. Participating in the launch festivities (l-r) Eleanor McAteer, City of Toronto's Tower Renewal Project Director; FRPO President & CEO Scott Andison: Toronto Ward 26 Councillor John Parker FRPO Chair Bill Zigomanis: and WJ Properties' CFO Perry Fryers.(Photo: Nicola Betts)

  

   

Gas consumption

Boilers and heating systems are required to regular  and ongoing preventative maintenance to ensure that equipment operates at  maximum efficiency. Regular monitoring and tracking efficiency will enable  companies to respond to changes in performance. They are also encouraged to  take advantage of new technologies, such as installing boilers with variable  speed drives, which can reduce gas consumption by up to 25%.

 

Companies in the existing program have been  maintaining and upgrading their boilers and heating systems for years.  Ferguslea Properties took their efforts to reduce gas consumption a step  further by installing a ground source heat­ pump system at one of its high rise  properties. This cutting edge heating and cooling solution is one of the most  efficient ways to heat and cool a building, even though the cost of installing  the system makes the payback longer than other technologies. The company believes  that the cost is justified because of the environmental benefit of reducing its  carbon footprint.

 

"We've realized energy savings of 25 per cent  over the first six months of 2014 compared to historical energy consumption  during the same period," said Steve Ryan, Vice President Asset Management,  Ferguslea Properties. "This achieved a 45 per cent decrease in natural gas  consumption, and gas boilers are now only required for domestic hot water and  as a back-up supplement for severe cold weather."

 

Water consumption

There are a number of ways to reduce water  consumption as described by this standard. Existing toilets, showerheads and  faucets must meet minimum standards with respect to flush volume or flow rate,  and replacement toilets, showerheads and faucets must meet higher standards to  help reduce water usage. For example, existing toilets must have a maximum  flush volume of 6 litres (1.6 gallons) per flush, while replacement toilets  must have a maximum flush volume of 4.8 litres (1.28 gallons) per flush. Common  area laundry facilities should also be equipped with Energy Star or equivalent  rated machines.

 

Members should employ a program to encourage  residents to report leaking fixtures; once notified, repairs of water­ related  leaks must be completed within two business days, which is a current CRB  Program standard. Members should also conduct annual in-suite inspections of  water-related fixtures to determine if they are leaking or malfunctioning.

 

Building owners are well aware that the cost of  water in Toronto (and Ontario) has been increasing by about 10%  per year for the last decade. While water costs were once relatively  immaterial, today's water bill is on the same order of magnitude (not the same  amount) as the heating bill. Some building owners use utility meter monitoring  systems to measure water consumption in real time, and can produce reports to  view trends over time to identify excessive water usage. They can use the  system to calculate a leak ratio by comparing water usage during a two-hour  period in the early morning (when people are usually sleeping) to water  consumption over a 24-hour period. If the leak ratio increases, then there is a  problem that must be identified.

 

"We are investigating the feasibility of  harvesting rainwater at our largest complex to offset the cost of municipally supplied  water used in grounds irrigation and a water feature," said Adam Krehm,  Principal, O'Shanter Development Company Ltd." The property currently  consumes about $12,000 per year in municipally supplied water to maintain the  grounds, so it is worth looking into innovative ways to reduce our water  consumption."

  

Waste management

This standard directs members to ensure that their  buildings have documented policies, operational practices and procedures that  outline the proper disposal, recycling or redirection of waste. Documentation  should inform residents, staff and contractors about the building's policies  and practices for managing different types of waste. Companies should track  their garbage, recycling and waste disposal activities to determine waste  diversion rates and set waste diversion targets. It is also important to  establish a communication plan that promotes resident awareness and encourages  their participation in the building's waste reduction and recycling efforts.

 

FRPO and its members have borrowed a number of waste  diversion strategies and practices from the City of Toronto, as the city has a very good waste  diversion program. Every municipality has different waste diversion and  recycling practices, so companies in different cities tend to adopt different  methods that work for them. The association has found that its members have put  forward­ thinking practices in place to reduce their waste output, and have  actually surpassed the municipalities in which their buildings are located.

 

"O'Shanter Development Company has achieved a  waste diversion rate near 70 per cent, while the City of Toronto average is around 23 to 27 per  cent," said Ted. "Among other things, they engage frontline staff and  residents in their waste programs, produce a waste toolkit that includes  instructions on where waste disposal locations are found, put recycling  receptacles throughout the building, and actively communicate with residents on  how well they are doing."

 

Indoor air quality

Equipment maintenance is an important component of  maintaining indoor air quality standards. Members should ensure that kitchen  and bathroom exhaust fans are working properly during annual in-suite  inspections. They should also employ qualified HVAC service providers to  regularly inspect, maintain and repair HVAC and air handling equipment so that  they perform in accordance to regulations.


Efforts to maintain and improve indoor air quality  should go beyond traditional methods. Where available and practicable, members  should purchase materials and products that have no or low chemical emissions  and that are scent free, including  paints, carpeting, flooring and cleaning products that contain or produce  volatile organic compounds (VOCs) . Contractors working on their properties  should use materials and products that follow these standards, and undertake measures to reduce dust, dirt and other contaminants while working. Companies  should also educate and inform residents on how in-suite activities can affect  building air quality, which includes smoking regulations and municipal by-laws.

 

Many of FRPO's members have implemented different  methods of improving the air quality in their buildings. For example, Osgoode  Properties' environmental committee decided to eliminate the use of containers  of pre-mixed cleaning products in its buildings. They installed a mixing  station in a room, which combines water with an environmentally friendly  concentrate to produce different types of cleaning products. There is no need  to store or recycle product containers, and the concentrate bags last longer,  so orders do not have to be replenished as quickly.

 

"After some initial reluctance, our staff found  that these cleaning products work just as well if not better than the products  they were using before," said Geoff Younghusband, Residential Portfolio  Manager, Osgoode Properties. "They appreciate that the products they now  use are not harmful to the environment. We have had some residents who are  sensitive to strong chemical smells let us know they also appreciate the fact  that we have eliminated the use of traditional cleaners, some of which left an  unpleasant odour."

 

 

Employee engagement

Members with 20 or more employees are required to  establish a joint environmental operations committee that meets at least three  times per year. However, it makes sense for companies of all sizes to follow  suit to ensure employees are engaged and involved in environmental efforts. One  person is designated to coordinate building-specific environmental initiatives  and apply environmental policies at their building. One person should be  certified in a CRB Program-approved awareness and leadership training program,  and at least one person should attend all CRB Program "Champions  Training" modules.

 

Companies should ensure that current and new staff  receive training on environmental standards, competency training on  conservation and environmentally responsible operating practices, and training  in environmental policy, practices, and procedures. This includes providing  updates when procedures are changed or new processes, materials, equipment or  supplies are introduced.

 

A number of FRPO's members, including The Minto Group,  have established multi-disciplinary environmental committees to take advantage  of the experience across their organization when planning, implementing and  improving programs and practices. This allows the company to identify and  evaluate issues and proposed changes from different perspectives. Committing to  environmental monitoring and reporting allows the member to track how it is  doing and guides the evolution of its conservation programs.

 

"The renewed level of engagement across our  residential rental team has been a particularly positive outcome," said  Alison. "Through our Environmental Operations Committee, we've mined  opportunities for improvement that have been enthusiastically addressed and in  a way that ensures real integration with how we operate on a day-to-day basis.  I'm confident that the influence of the new environmental standards on our  environmental program will benefit our residents, our operations and the  environment."

 

Resident engagement

A documented and active resident education and  awareness program is an essential part of this standard. The program should  inform existing and new residents about the organization's environmental  policy, including updates or changes to the policy. It should provide annual  updates and information on building-specific activities, strategies or targets  that the staff has implemented to enhance environmentally responsible building  opera ions. Companies in the program should describe their expectations and  procedures for residents on waste management, recycling and other environmental  measures for the building. They should also encourage residents to change their  behaviours and adopt conservation habits that positively impact the  environment.

 

Some companies have found that the best way to  motivate residents to buy into the environmental program is to lead by example.  In addition to communicating its efforts to reduce its carbon footprint, they  offer free annual pickup of unwanted items so that they are properly disposed  of according to its environmental policy. The landlord conducts annual suite  inspections, which includes cleaning heating radiators to create better heat  quality, checking for plumbing leaks and cleaning air vents to ensure better  air quality. It also installs high efficiency laundry equipment in its  buildings to reduce tenants' use of laundry detergent.

 

"Our residents appreciate that we reinvest any  savings generated from these initiatives back into our buildings," said  Zeljka Budjinski, Director of Operations, Williams & McDaniel Property  Management. "They recognize their benefit in participating in this program  and enjoy living at a well-maintained building."

 

Conclusion

The CRB Program has helped to improve operations,  profitability, professionalism and living standards in rental properties. The  "Living GREEN Together" standards can be expected to improve  environmental standards and sustainability efforts in rental properties, and  make them better places to live. It is a worthy goal to increase energy  efficiency and waste diversion, as well as making landlords and residents more  environmentally responsible. Every effort to reduce our carbon footprint and  make properties healthier places to live is laudable, and should be supported  by everyone in our industry.

 

"As a company, we want to be a strong corporate  citizen and a conscientious manager of our residents' homes," said Geoff.  "We have the ability to take a leadership role in bringing prominence to  the issue of reducing our environmental footprint. We believe our staff and our  residents appreciate it, and not only can they see how we operate in an environmentally  responsible fashion, we can help them learn new ways in which they, as  individuals, can help to do the same, both in our buildings and beyond in the  community."

 

You  can also read the article online in the Rental Housing Business Magazine or download as a pdf. Living_Green_Standards_RHB_Magazine

RHB MAGAZINE

NOVEMBER 24, 2014,

BY: JUAN MALVESTITTI