Sustainability is the watchword these days. All over the country, businesses and residences are being encouraged to go green, and condominiums, cooperatives and homeowners’ associations are no exception.
But not all condos/co-ops/HOAs are cut from the same cloth; different associations have different budgets, various layouts that can render some energy alternatives more viable than others, and a range of owners/shareholders with their own priorities which a board must always consider. Also, several power sources, from cogeneration to solar to wind, are still newer than they are not, and a board can be forgiven for not being on the cutting edge of the latest options. Fortunately, we’re here to provide a primer on the options that are available today, regardless of your geographical location or the size of your association’s coffers.
At What Cost
A board maintains a fiduciary duty to its ownership and shareholders that is paramount over all other concerns. Thus, even the most environmentally conscious panel of residential representatives needs to prioritize affordability and cost, oftentimes over saving this majestic planet. But that isn’t to say that one cannot do both; just that a cost/benefit analysis must be implemented.
Oftentimes, local utility companies will work with interested clients to incentivize reducing their energy usage. “I think that, in many cases, people who are aware of the environmental options which are available in their area have yet to buy in based on the price, and those who are unaware might do some research, and find that certain energy options are not viable to them,” explains Robert Meyer, director of engineering services at FirstService Residential.
New Jersey has several energy conservation and utility incentives available from the state and federal governments. Many of these incentive programs began with the creation of New Jersey's Clean Energy Program, established in 2003 in accordance with the Electric Discount and Energy Competition Act. The program provides financial and other incentives to the state's residential customers, businesses and schools which install high-efficiency or renewable energy technologies. The entire operation is managed by the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities' Office of Clean Energy.