While a lot of the nation’s trends begin in California, I’m hoping the state’s drought isn’t one of them. After a decade of general scarcity the West is now in its third year of a debilitating drought.

At the beginning of the year Governor Jerry Brown declared a drought emergency and the state’s Department of Public Health warned that at least eight communities were in danger of running out of drinking water without state intervention.

California’s state water project shut off supply to major urban and agricultural water districts for the first time in history and experts are saying that 2014 could be the Golden State’s driest in half a century.

Trends aside, California’s drought has already affected the rest of the country adversely. Once a $44.7 billion agricultural industry, the U.S. and its exports has seen rising produce prices, and supply of its food and other related goods, stunted. Grocery store prices are expected to jump another 2.5 to 3.5 percent this year.

Not only does this affect renters’ expendible income, food and personal water use, but water restrictions and rationing are turning landscapes golden brown under the warm Fall sun. Many counties in Los Angeles now prohibit topping off pools, and some have banned new pools altogether.

A number of landlords face unexpected fines on their water use, some upwards of $25,000. Water conservation in California is no longer an option.

Resident billing combined with benchmarking remain our simplest solutions in initiating the process of conservation. Study after study suggests that being aware of the resources, or in the case of our communities, the utilities dispensed at our apartments, is the first step in changing behavior and collaborating on efficiency with our residents.

EPA’s ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager, which also includes a water tracker, is a huge, nationally-profound step forward in compelling conservation. It has always been our obligation as good citizens, and it is now becoming key to our ability to run solvent businesses.

Earlier this year at the NWP Energy Summit, we were amongst the first to hear details about the EPA’s roll-out of the new 1-to-100 score, part of the agency’s ENERGY STAR commercial program. NWP was multifamily’s first adopter years ago of the EPA’s tool and we look forward to soon seeing the fruits of helping to gather all this energy use data.

We hope you will join us, and other apartment owners and operators, large and small, already onboarding their communities with the EPA and its Portfolio Manager. It’s one way to get out in front of managing our consumption, responsibly and with fiscal prudence. And its far gentler on the psyche than rationing and restrictions.

 

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