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Sustainable residential construction

If you’re a property owner or manager of an apartment building, you’ve likely contemplated ways to reduce energy costs while contributing to a more sustainable future. One promising avenue to achieve both goals is to explore renewable energy options for your buildings. In this article, we’ll delve into the renewable energy strategies available for apartment buildings.

Understanding the Need for Renewable Energy in Apartment Buildings

Before we delve into specific renewable energy options, it’s crucial to understand why renewable energy matters for apartment buildings. 

Traditional energy sources like fossil fuels don’t just harm the environment by generating greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide: They’re also getting more expensive over time as nonrenewable resources dwindle. Resource depletion also makes fossil fuels decreasingly reliable, as a single supply chain disruption can prompt waves of outages and price spikes. By adopting renewable energy sources, apartment buildings can significantly decrease their carbon footprint, cut electricity expenses, and get more reliable energy service.

In addition, buildings that use renewable energy are attractive to both tenants and investors. The opportunity to save money while protecting the environment is a powerful draw that can create demand and raise property values.

Financial Benefits of Renewable Energy

Renewable energy has significant financial benefits for apartment building owners, both direct and indirect. Here’s how:

Return on Investment (ROI)

While the initial installation cost may be significant, renewables offer a strong ROI over the long term through energy savings. Tax incentives further increase their ROI by lowering the entry point.

Direct cost savings

Installing renewable energy sources in apartment buildings can lead to substantial cost savings in the long run. Renewable energy sources like solar panels and wind turbines provide a consistent source of free energy. They reduce reliance on electric grids, resulting in lower utility bills. 

Tax incentives and rebates

The federal government and many local authorities offer financial incentives, tax credits, and rebates for apartment buildings that adopt renewable energy. This can help offset the intimidating installation costs, improving the return on investment and making renewable energy more approachable.

Financial stability and energy independence

By generating their electricity, apartment building owners can reduce their reliance on the grid. This helps mitigate the impact of energy price fluctuations and power outages, resulting in improved financial stability and more reliable service.

Secondary revenue stream

Apartment buildings can sell electricity that they don’t use directly back to the grid. This prevents energy generated during low-demand periods from going to waste and provides some supplemental revenue.

Renewable Energy Sources for Apartment Buildings

From common sources like solar panels to rarer ones like geothermal wells, there are a huge number of types of renewable energy to choose from. Not all of them will be possible to include for every apartment building, but with such a wide range of energy types, you’re sure to find a few viable options.

Solar power

Solar power is the most common renewable energy option for apartment buildings for a good reason. Installing solar panels on the rooftop or other suitable areas of the building will provide a steady stream of power year-round – even in winter. Solar energy systems come in various sizes, so they work well for buildings of any size.

The future of solar technology

Solar technology continues to advance rapidly, making it an increasingly attractive option for apartment buildings. Innovations such as thin-film solar panels, energy storage solutions like lithium-ion batteries, and energy management systems are enhancing the efficiency and reliability of solar energy systems. As these technologies become more accessible, the financial and environmental benefits of solar power are expected to grow.

Wind energy

While often associated with vast rural and offshore wind farms, wind energy can also be harnessed effectively in urban settings. Small-scale wind turbines can be installed on the rooftops of apartment buildings to generate electricity from wind power. They can be built to the scale of your building: Bigger buildings can support bigger turbines, which generate more power.

Challenges and considerations

It’s essential to consider local regulations and common weather patterns in your area when exploring wind energy for apartment buildings. Some regions may have restrictions on the installation of wind turbines, and not all locations are ideal for wind power generation. However, where conditions are favorable, wind energy can be a valuable source of power for apartment buildings.

Geothermal energy

Geothermal energy systems are a lesser-known but effective renewable energy option for apartment buildings. These systems use the stable temperature of the Earth’s subsurface to generate power and heat. Geothermal power is most viable in regions with stable ground where the Earth’s heat is closer to the surface.

Installation and design considerations

Installing a geothermal heating and cooling system requires careful planning and design. It typically involves drilling wells or installing ground loops to access heat from the Earth. If the Earth’s heat is too deep, drilling costs become prohibitive. If the ground isn’t stable, it can trigger earthquakes, sinkholes, or landslides. Location is critical for geothermal energy, and for many buildings, it simply isn’t an option.

While the initial installation cost for geothermal systems may be higher than other renewable sources, the long-term savings and environmental benefits make geothermal systems a compelling choice for apartment buildings.

Hydroelectric power

Hydroelectric power is drawn from continuously flowing water like rivers and streams. Apartment buildings near rivers or streams may be able to install hydroelectric turbines on-site. Some apartment buildings in cities with high-pressure water mains have even installed micro-turbines in their pipes to generate electricity from the municipal water supply.

On-site hydroelectric power isn’t an option for most apartment buildings, but many regional energy providers offer reasonably priced hydroelectric power.

Practical considerations

The feasibility of hydroelectric power for apartment buildings largely depends on proximity to flowing water and regulatory approvals. Hydroelectric systems can be more complicated to install than other renewable options. They may require collaborating with local authorities and getting environmental impact assessments. They’re also very difficult to install in existing buildings because they require a foundation designed to channel water, so they’re rare outside new construction.

Talking to Your Energy Provider 

Selecting renewable energy for your apartment building is a significant decision that involves navigating various options and understanding the potential benefits and costs. One crucial step in this process is communicating with your energy provider to explore renewable energy choices within your energy plan. If you’re not sure how to navigate this process, a commercial energy broker can help.

Here’s how to approach this important conversation:

1. Research and preparation

Before reaching out to your energy provider or broker, it’s essential to do your homework. Understand the renewable energy options available in your area and the specific regulations or incentives that may apply. Research the energy providers that offer renewable energy plans and compare their offerings.

2. Contact your energy provider

Start by contacting your current energy provider. Ask them about the renewable energy plans they offer and inquire about the sources of renewable energy they use. Many providers now offer a variety of clean energy options.

3. Ask about costs and benefits

During your conversation, ask about the costs associated with switching to a renewable energy plan. Compare these costs to your current energy expenses to determine the potential financial impact. Additionally, inquire about any incentives or tax credits available for renewable energy adoption.

4. Evaluate contract terms

Review the contract terms carefully. Understand the duration of the contract, any penalties for early termination, and whether the rate is fixed or variable. A fixed-rate plan provides price stability, while a variable-rate plan fluctuates with market conditions. Consider the available options and determine the best plan for your business and your tenants.

5. Discuss Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs)

RECs are tradable certificates that represent the environmental attributes of renewable energy generation. Ask your energy provider if they offer RECs as part of their renewable energy plans. Purchasing RECs can help ensure that the energy you use is offset by renewable energy generation elsewhere.

6. Work with an energy broker

If navigating the renewable energy landscape seems complex, consider enlisting the services of an energy broker. Energy brokers specialize in helping businesses find the most suitable energy plans for their needs. They can provide valuable insights, negotiate on your behalf, and help you make an informed decision.

Renewables and Your Apartment Building

Renewable energy offers a range of ways for apartment buildings to reduce energy costs, improve stability and service, and increase property values. Renewable resources aren’t just cleaner than fossil fuels; they’re more financially sustainable as well. 

As technology continues to advance, every type of renewable energy is becoming more accessible and affordable. So if you’re looking to make your apartment building more energy-efficient and sustainable, it’s time to consider installing clean energy sources.

Reach out to Integrity Energy today to find out more about renewable energy options in your energy plan.