Embracing Sustainable Innovation – Green Management Trends

Vermont condominium associations face unique challenges in areas like technology implementation, shrinking their carbon footprints, and conserving energy, all in shifting toward today’s world focus on environmental awareness. As the planet becomes more eco-friendly, associations need to keep up with current trends to ensure sustainable growth and management of condo communities across the Green Mountain State.

Vermont is at the forefront of proposing several steps in fighting climate change. The sweeping Global Warming Solutions Act (GWSA) of 2020 established meticulous requirements for reduction in greenhouse gas emissions over the next 30 years, aiming for:

– 25% below 2005 levels by 2025
– 40% below 1990 levels by 2030
– 80% below 1990 levels by 2050, or zero emissions when combined with sequestration (carbon capture)

Together, the transportation and building sectors of Vermont account for almost 75% of greenhouse gas emissions. So, there is no doubt that tighter building and transportation standards must be adopted. In May of 2023, the Clean Heat Standard (Act 18) took effect, stating, “it is the intent of the General Assembly [of Vermont] that the Clean Heat Standard be designed and implemented in a manner that achieves Vermont’s thermal sector greenhouse gas emissions reductions necessary to meet the requirements of [the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2020], minimizes costs to customers, protects public health, and recognizes that affordable heating is essential for Vermonters.”

Among many of the initiatives, the Act directs the Vermont Public Utility Commission to design a potential Clean Heat Standard and to file its recommendations with the Vermont General Assembly by January 15, 2025. So, the flurry of standard updates and regulations will be in high gear over the next several years. My advice? Pay attention to these initiatives as they are deployed so that you don’t get caught flat-footed. In the meantime, consider the following:

In this digital era, technology plays a big part in improving efficiency and communication within condos and associations who are increasingly using innovative solutions to simplify operations, engage residents more, and make living spaces greener.

**Smart home tech:** Putting smart home technology into condos can boost energy efficiency. From programmable thermostats to smart lighting, these let residents manage energy use better. Associations might think about incentives or partnerships with tech providers to encourage adopting solutions.

**Online platforms:** Using online platforms for communication and governance can reduce paper and streamline admin. Associations can leverage these for announcements, file sharing, and online votes—making decisions more open and accessible.

Vermont’s strong commitment to environmental sustainability creates an expectation for associations to actively help reduce carbon emissions. Putting eco-friendly practices in place aligns with the state’s values and also makes residents’ lives better.

**Green building initiatives:** Pushing or requiring green building methods when constructing or renovating condos can majorly shrink the carbon footprint of your community. Structural insulated panels (SIPs) and continuous exterior insulation (that could be applied during a building envelope remediation) have shown a significant reduction in energy use. Even the latest window technology can make a huge difference.

**Solar panels:** These not only help the environment but also save residents money in the long run.

**Community gardens and green spaces:** Changing unused areas within condo communities into community gardens or green spaces promotes biodiversity, lowers the heat island effect, and brings residents together. These green spots don’t just absorb carbon but also give residents chances to live sustainably.

Vermont’s tough climate means homeowner associations (HOAs) need to conserve energy proactively. They can play a big role in taking measures that save energy and help condos handle changing weather.

**Energy audits and efficiency programs:** Regular energy checks can show ways to improve condo buildings. HOAs can work with local efficiency programs to make cost-effective upgrades like better insulation, energy-efficient appliances, and LED lights to reduce how much energy they use.

As Vermont’s condominium landscape evolves, these ideas—as well as keeping your ear to the ground and staying up to date on the fast-paced legislation announcements—will help support a sustainable future. Vermont associations have a chance to lead towards a greener future for all.

Written By President, Andrew Dudka for Condo Media Magazine