A core piece of infrastructure for any MDU property is its HVAC system. After all, all multifamily properties need to be heated and cooled at some point. Similarly, HVAC systems are a core overhead cost for any MDU property. From their installation to their use and maintenance, HVAC systems represent an unavoidable operational cost for MDU operators (and their tenants).
Many multifamily properties still feature ‘analog’ HVAC systems – e.g. that lack individual thermostat capability in units or even relying on single-pipe steam radiators. The challenge with older HVAC technologies, of course, is that they don’t offer any proactive way to manage their energy costs and reduce maintenance costs.
With the rise of smart technology, however, the HVAC sector has undergone significant technological transformation over the last decade. Indeed, smart centralized HVAC systems now play a significant role in reducing operational costs, increasing occupancy rates, and even increasing property values.
Centralized HVAC trends and MDU management
Several technological trends have been reshaping multifamily property management, particularly through centralized HVAC systems. From smart IoT-enabled components to completely ductless systems to more eco-friendly HVAC solutions, a number of centralized HVAC trends are changing how MDU operators manage their multifamily homes.
Adopting smart home technology
Adopting IoT-enabled HVAC technology is the first trend that MDU operators can embrace to gain more control over their property’s energy consumption and HVAC costs. Essentially, by installing smart home technology such as smart thermostats and occupancy and temperature sensors, MDU managers can reduce energy costs by responding to rea-time occupancy patterns and thermodynamic fluctuations.
Of course, not all smart thermostats are created equal, and while consumer-grade smart thermostats (such as those offered by Nest and Ecobee) are appropriate for single-family homes, MDUs require are commercial-grade smart thermostats that can manage fluctuations in occupancy patterns and thermodynamics across both multiple units and common areas. More importantly, however, commercial-grade smart thermostats are capable of collecting energy consumption data that provides property managers with insight they can use to optimize their energy and operational costs.
Smart HVAC energy management technologies
While smart home technologies offer hardware solutions to managing and reducing energy costs, many MDU operators are also embracing software solutions for managing their energy consumption and reducing HVAC costs. Specifically, smart energy management systems are helping MDU managers automate how they optimize their energy consumption.
Verdant’s EI energy management system, for instance, integrates with smart thermostats and occupancy sensors, aggregates the data they collect (such as such as peak demand loads, historical thermodynamics, local weather patterns), and uses sophisticated machine learning to continuously analyze that data and automatically optimize energy consumption on an ongoing basis.
Smart HVAC energy management systems can also help MDU managers manage and reduce maintenance costs. Verdant EI, for instance, features HVAC diagnostic alerts whenever an HVAC system is not operating properly, allowing maintenance staff to identify and address malfunctions before they lead to costly energy consumption or even complete system failure. The cost saving offered by smart energy management systems is so significant, in fact, that their adoption is already standard across other commercial properties, such as hotels, student housing, and senior residences – can even increase the resale value of a commercial property.
Ductless HVAC systems
One of the biggest challenges MDU operators face, especially with older buildings, is the inability to install new HVAC systems due to a lacking the space needed to install ductwork. Consequently, multifamily property managers are turning to ductless HVAC solutions, which require much less space to be installed and curb air leaks that inevitably result at duct connections. Indeed, ductless HVAC solutions are one of the most effective ways to replace an outdated HVAC system, maintaining an MDU’s profitability and streamlining energy efficiency with an affordable solution.
User-friendly HVAC controls
MDU operators are also responsible for providing a certain tenant experience. Installing user-friendly smart thermostats in rental units is not only an effective way to manage energy consumption and optimize energy costs, but also create an optimal user-experience for tenants.
Whether this means allowing tenants to remotely control their own HVAC settings, or installing sensors that automatically adjust to real-time occupancy and thermodynamic patterns, user-friendly controls on centralized HVAC systems offer tenants an value-added experience that not only support occupancy goals, but improves the profitability of the overall MDU property.
Eco-friendly HVAC is the way forward
Leveraging eco-friendly HVAC solutions is a great way for MDU operators to differentiate their properties from the competition, all-the-while adapting a cost-effective approach to energy management. With more ESG requirements being enacted, implementing eco-friendly HVAC solutions ensures MDU operators are fostering a more sustainable culture and meeting their targets.
Eco-friendly HVAC technologies not only reduce their building’s overall carbon footprint, but also help reduce energy consumption on a unit-to-unit basis, offering multifamily property management companies more control with their energy management. Smarter, greener technology is proven to reduce operating costs and is aligned with a socially responsible property management strategy.
Eco-friendly heat pumps
Heat pumps transfer heat using refrigerant, representing a far more efficient heating method in moderate to cool weather. Eco-friendly heat pumps can act as a great supplement to an inefficient furnace, helping MDUs save significantly on their energy costs. Furthermore, when temperatures reach below freezing, the furnace can kick in and compliment your heat pump to perfection.
Eco-friendly heat pumps are becoming more prevalent in MDU structures as multifamily property managers search for more sustainable methods and meet growing ESG mandates. This not only helps MDU operators save on their energy costs, but also underlines their commitment to social responsibility.
Personalized Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
Implementing a personalized customer relationship management (CRM) system is another way MDU operators are modernizing their day-to-day. With an optimized CRM in place, multifamily property managers are improving their work order management, ensuring every aspect of their infrastructure (including their centralized HVAC system) is accounted for, ranging from maintenance to equipment to reports.
Moreover, a custom CRM blends seamlessly with an MDU’s existing software, automatically exchanging data, and signaling potential problems. This helps reduce operating costs and helps MDU operators streamline their organizational workflow.
Managing on Indoor Air Quality (IAQ)
Simply put, IAQ refers to the air quality within and around buildings and structures, and is increasingly becoming a point of focus for tenants. In fact, according to an AirAdvice survey of 50,000 American homes, More than 96% of homes tested have at least one indoor air quality problem. This can include problems with humidity, temperature, allergens, and more.
Consequently, multifamily property managers are paying close attention to crucial IAQ parameters, instilling practices to improve air quality. This includes but is not limited to, increasing ventilation, sealing leaks, proactively maintaining their HVAC System, and removing pollutants. By improving their MDU’s IAQ, multifamily property managers are gaining an edge over the competition, while also supporting their ESG targets.
Verdant’s Sensor Network and MDU management
In keeping with evolving HVAC trends and MDU management, Verdant developed its own proprietary Sensor Network. Essentially, our network of temperature and humidity sensors report data in real-time to our online platform (Verdant EI), helping MDU operators eliminate energy inefficiencies, and ultimately reducing the average amount of heat needed in each unit and common areas.
Verdant’s Sensor Network is designed to offer multifamily property managers more control over energy consumption, equipping them with insightful data into real-time occupancy patterns. Consequently, MDU operators can use this data to dictate their energy management strategy, resulting in significant cost-savings.
With more MDU operators pivoting to smart technologies, including smart thermostats and energy management systems, Verdant’s Sensor Network is a great way to optimize energy consumption while keeping an eye on profitability.
Centralized HVAC and Energy Management
As the centralized HVAC industry continues to evolve, so will multifamily property managers. Older multifamily properties will soon be forced to adapt to smart technology and centralized HVAC trends or risk falling behind both the competition and ESG requirements.
From installing eco-friendly HVAC solutions with user-friendly controls, to leveraging smart HVAC automation and IoT and connectivity solutions, MDU operators have a variety of ways they can optimize their energy consumption. Verdant’s EI offers multifamily property managers a direct path towards maximizing their energy savings without compromising on tenant comfort.