I’m delighted to be here—in this moment, at this time, with this message.

As multifamily housing owners and operators, and those who support their enterprises, we have amazing opportunities before us. At no other time in history have so much technology, research and infrastructure aligned so perfectly to create a laser focus on efficiency of operation, ease of use and, most importantly, tandem value on the bottom line to owners and residents alike.

For decades, businesses have sought to chart the course of their customers in order to better serve their needs, remain ahead of their buying decisions and create products that complement the customer’s journey. Multifamily looks to refine this process as it carefully studies the lifecycle of residents with an eye toward expanding such understanding into a complete rental experience that captures the heart of a renter far beyond four walls. It is, after all, the experience that we proffer to residents.

Utility Management sits in a position unlike any other facet of apartment operations. Utilities breathe life into a unit and literally animate the life of its resident. Residents’ use of utilities inside their apartments and throughout the community are a connection that we are only now beginning to explore, and for the prudent apartment owner, to master to the benefit of all involved.

So how are smart apartment owners influencing this brave new world and capturing the heart of residents through utility management?

It begins by reframing utilities as something beyond a commodity. They are at the heartbeat of how residents live. Reshaping this understanding changes everything, including expectations of what is possible.

And so sets the importance of how we as owners and advisors, manage, and utilize this most valuable service and potential well of insight in order to elevate the lives of our residents.

This was much of the conversation at the Energy Summit held earlier this year in Washington, D.C. From the latest technology and research to thought leadership on the future of utilities, federal agencies, researchers and data scientists shared game-changing insights related to the distribution of water to power and beyond, as it relates to the residents who live in our apartments.

Every story in this issue is a headliner, but just one example comes from the huge amount of research around the health of the “built environment,” a term used for indoors in the circle of building scientists.

Our residents, on average, spend 93 percent of their lives indoors. Breathing our air. Using the utilities we distribute. Turning on the lights we power as agents of distribution.

While much has been studied on office and retail space, only in the last few years have we begun to see this research move into the apartment space where its impact is as great or greater to the lives we house.

Paul Scialla, founder of the Well Building Institute and leading authority on the health affects of built spaces, was a speaker at the Energy Summit and shares his insights in “Health: An Inside Job” (p. 6). While the industry is just touching the surface of such insight, I’m fortunate to have a seat with a full view of all that is possible. It’s nothing short of transformational for owners and operators and the way business is done around utility billing and management, as well as providing new ways to deliver unprecedented value to residents.

Such optimization inside utility management means lower operating costs, energized staff (because who doesn’t love being a hero?) and an accrual of the ever-divine brand-loyalty from residents.

In my two decades inside the multifamily industry, I’ve never been as excited or as enamored with a service as I am with Utility Management. Technology changes everything and we’ve moved a previously flat part of apartment operations into a completely new world of value and opportunity.

I look forward to sharing the ways and means to use these tools for the profitability of your business, and to the value of your residents. Buckle in. It’s going to be an exciting ride.

 

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