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Strata managers get smart

Strata managers are seeing the value of upgrading the energy efficiency of their buildings, with some impressive results.

Private residential and commercial buildings have a smorgasbord of schemes and incentives to make energy efficiency improvements. But until recently, strata buildings languished in the too-hard basket. With the tangled interests of owners, investors and tenants all under the same roof — and a complex strata environment to navigate — the options were limited.

At last that’s all changed. Smart Blocks' free program is jam packed with advice and tools to help managers and owners make their buildings energy efficient. As energy prices soar, local councils are getting on board too, offering advice, support and impressive rebates.

Strata managers are increasingly finding Smart Blocks is a valuable addition to their offering. Many are working to tune up all the buildings in their portfolios.

Property management group The Knight Alliance strives to be the best, and sees Smart Blocks’ tools as providing vital market differentiation. “To say ‘We are Smart Blocks managers’ shows we’re progressive and proactive,” says the company's director, Gregor Evans.

For OC managers like those at The Knight Alliance, Smart Blocks just makes sense. As all buildings are different, we’ve developed toolkits so you can audit each building to quickly determine the feasibility and impact of different projects.

We’ve also streamlined the process of getting projects started. To guide you through each step of the way, we’ve developed templates — from drafting a motion of intent to developing a business case for proposed projects. We can also connect you to rebates and incentives, so projects are cost-effective and have impressive financial benefits.

The Knight Alliance is currently looking into working with Smart Blocks to provide training for all of their property managers. This will give managers the ability to easily audit buildings and develop energy saving strategies. It’s a move Gregor thinks will make his organisation a cut above the rest.

Like The Knight Alliance, boutique property manager Alvin Diamond from Property Professionals sees Smart Blocks as a natural extension of his business.

Alvin is passionate about making his diverse portfolio of residential buildings in Melbourne as efficient as possible. With a background in business analytics, he thinks a lot about systems and how to make them smarter and more cost effective. He sees introducing energy-saving measures as a no-brainer. In fact, all of his buildings are on the path to becoming Smart Blocks.

Alvin's commitment to energy efficiency comes from first-hand experience. After he noticed the energy savings of switching to LED globes in his own home, Alvin asked a provider under the Victorian Government Energy Efficiency Target (VEET) scheme to visit the strata buildings he manages. In one building, they switched 300 lights to LEDs in common areas for free, and installed two-dozen LEDs with transformers at a discount rate. Sixty-five per cent of the owners also switched to LEDs inside their apartments.

As well as masterminding the LED switch, Alvin has negotiated a better deal with energy retailers for several of his buildings. Next, he is using Smart Blocks to put together a package to explain options like solar systems. Needless to say, the owners are thrilled.

Alvin believes focusing on initiatives like Smart Blocks adds enormous value to his strata management offering. He places himself in the shoes of each apartment owner to ask, what would I want a manager to do for me? Right now, fine-tuning each building to make common areas smarter and more efficient is at the top of that list.

Don’t wait for a VEET provider to knock on your door, find out how Smart Blocks can help you make cost-effective energy savings for your buildings.

Get Smart with these tips from Alvin and The Knight Alliance:

  • Don’t be a manila manager: make Smart Blocks a core part of your strata management. It’s free, flexible and the financial benefits are impressive. 
  • Start with quick wins. Switching to LED lighting is easy and pays for itself, so do it first. Look out for motion sensor-triggered lights so they’re not on 24/7, to save even more.
  • To get owners corporations on side, put together a clear business case for investment in each energy efficiency project, with data on financial benefits and payback periods.
  • Try negotiating with energy retailers to see if you can get a better deal for your buildings. There will be applause.
  • Look into solar systems further down the track, so you can see the successive benefit of completed energy saving projects and get the right sized system for the building’s reduced needs.

 

Top photo: Leposava Beljac, Flickr cc