Social Media

Communicating green building plans to tenants

Talking to occupants about changes can help get everyone working toward the same goals
Monday, May 5, 2014
By Chaim Rivlin

Becoming energy efficient takes a lot of work, particularly in older apartment buildings, and it can’t be done by management alone. Involving residents in the process helps get everyone get on board and working towards the same energy-efficient green building plans.

For property managers, communicating the changes they wish to implement through social media can help fully engage with residents and potential residents alike. But it’s not just social media that can make a difference — talking the talk is one thing, demonstrating actual commitment to the cause is another.

Meet with residents

Management should ask residents about what kind of modifications they’d like to see in their suites. They can organize a meeting in the apartment building’s common room to discuss the green movement and open the floor to comments and discussions. With more and more Canadians incorporating environmentally friendly practices into their everyday lives, management is likely to hear a number of ideas that may not have been on their radar.

Use social media

Chances are management already has Facebook and Twitter accounts for their property, which they can use to keep the conversation going. Facebook is a wonderful tool for communicating with residents, whether it’s to create a poll for them to vote on which green change they’d like to see first or to encourage them to share their energy-efficient success stories. Management can also check in to see how programs have been received, such as asking tenants whether their electricity bill has gone down since programmable thermostats have been installed.

Social media does not have to be used for simple promotion. It can be an opportunity to share information and educate online followers about environmental issues. Managers can post articles about the best eco-friendly cleaning products or ways to reduce water consumption. By adding value through Twitter and Facebook accounts, they can reach more and more people while branding a building as one that cares about the environment.

Be visible

Most apartment buildings will have recycling bins that residents can use to keep plastics and papers out of the landfill. But what about recycling bins for compact fluorescent bulbs?

The move to compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) is ramping up. And while they have a considerably longer lifespan than their incandescent brethren, they will still need to be disposed of eventually. Having a bin onsite for residents to drop their used CFLs into will allow managers to exhibit their green thumb, all the while making it easier for residents to make the switch to these bulbs.

But managers shouldn’t just set up the recycling bin and leave it. Rather, it should be promoted throughout the building with signage in high-traffic areas and posts on social media channels espousing the importance and benefits of using CFLs.

Empower through information

Having access to information about environmentally friendly practices will encourage residents to adopt a green lifestyle.

Managers can put up posters with facts and statistics that show the benefits of making little changes, such as taking the bus to work instead of driving every day. When new residents move in, managers can provide them with a booklet of tips that will help them to make eco-friendly choices in their apartment. Making a big lifestyle change can be overwhelming, so showing residents the positive impact they can make by embracing even small modifications to their daily routine will be beneficial for everyone.

As with any changes and renovations, it’s important for managers to keep residents informed. If management is installing low-flow showerheads in each suite, they should let residents know well in advance of when the switch over will happen for them, how long it will take and what they can expect to gain from the change.

Simply keeping the lines of communication open will go a long way to keeping a green plan on track. Making the eco-friendly conversation an ongoing one will help to make a building one that residents are proud to call home.

Chaim Rivlin is the founder and CEO of RentSeeker.

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