Greening Up Our Community Associations

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Going green has become mainstream! It is no longer considered "weird" to show your concern for the environment, and those who are concerned are no longer thought of as part of the "lunatic fringe".

Community Managers or Board Members

As Community Managers or Board members, we are in a prime position to have an effect on the environment. Collectively, we can make a significant difference.

One of our major influences is in the way that we write contracts for our service providers. The community's landscape contract is a prime example. We can insist that our landscape contractors use environmentally-safe, organic weed controls and fertilizers. We can insist that they practice Integrated Pest Management by treating for pests only if they appear, rather than spreading random applications of chemicals for pests that are having an "off" year. We can insist that chemical applications do not run off into retention basins, streams or ponds. We can insist that the sprinkler system is used in accordance with township drought regulations, and make sure the sprinkler heads are aimed so they don't spray water on asphalt or concrete surfaces.

Practice Xeriscaping when planting on common ground areas by choosing plants that are native to your area. You'll save on watering and have plants that are more likely to survive in your environment. Prevent invasive plants from taking over your common areas. They seem to be lush and healthy, but these unwelcome invaders crowd out native plants and alter the environment to the extent that native animal and beneficial insect species no longer have a food source. Communities can set aside an area where homeowners or the landscape contractor can bring yard waste for composting. How about starting a program to keep Christmas trees out of the landfills? Use the composting area for homeowners or your landscaper to bring Christmas trees after the holidays and contract with your landscaper to chip them. Homeowners can use the wood chips in their gardens in the spring. Yes, it's a little more difficult than just leaving the tree at the curb for the trash hauler, but what a great way to put the tree to good use!

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Use your community's newsletter to encourage energy efficiency and conservation in the home. Take the lead by educating your homeowners about installing fluorescent or LED lights, water conservation, heat conservation and efficiency. Revise your Rules and Regulations to allow energy saving devices on the exterior of the home. Technical advances are making devices such as solar panels smaller and more attractive. Ask your electrician or hire an energy efficiency expert for advice on the best type of lights to use in your streetlights. Your community's clubhouse is a perfect place to put into practice all the conservation measures for homes on a larger scale. Efficient lights and heat not only make environmental sense, but also save the community money. How about solar panels on that big clubhouse roof?

Another great use of your newsletter is to educate people about your community's recycling program. Speak to your trash hauler to find out all the items that are collected for recycling and how to put them out correctly for collection. Make sure you are recycling at your clubhouse. There's no reason that all those beverage containers should go in the trash! Children in particular are avid recyclers, so let's set a good example for them.

Speaking of children, they are the purpose of all of these changes in our old way of doing things. We want to leave the world a better place for them, for they are our future.

 

Source: Association Times
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