Embracing water conservation measures during California’s historic drought can lead to positive and unexpected returns on investment for building owners, according to a new report by Colliers International. The biggest challenge many face is understanding how to implement the new restrictions in order to reap the financial and environmental benefits of saving water while avoiding the penalties the state can impose on those who violate the new restrictions.

With building owners facing fines of up to $10,000 per day and potential criminal prosecution for repeat violations, it is imperative that owners of commercial properties begin the process of transitioning their buildings to conserve water to meet the new state guidelines, the report, entitled “The California Water Crisis,” noted. But the question for many owners is where to turn for assistance in implementing the new laws.

“Although building owners already face stiff financial and possible criminal penalties for repeated violations of the new rules, up to a complete cutoff of water to their properties, many have been slow to embrace them because they don’t know where to begin,” said Colliers International’s Karen Whitt, president of the firm’s US Investor Services and Real Estate Management Services. “Admittedly, it can seem like a daunting process, but that’s where property owners need to depend on property management professionals whose jobs, at least in California, now include water conservation and other environmental issues.”

As an example, Whitt pointed to one property the real estate services firm manages where conservation measures saved 1.2 million gallons of water per year and resulted in a return on the capital investment necessary to implement the plan in less than a month. She credited Colliers’ formalized conservation program for building owners as the chief factor in the project’s successful transition to a “green” property that both saves water and has increased its profitability by doing so.

“Achieving the goals of decreased water consumption and saving money are not just about using ‘green’ products and smart technologies,” said Whitt. “Our property managers also focus on changing tenant behavior over the long term and enrolling our clients in rebate and incentive programs at all levels of government.”

The report lists measures needed to comply with the new emergency water conversation measures and see a positive return on investment, including:

  • Drought-tolerant landscaping
  • Reductions in water-based cleaning applications
  • Adjustments to heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems
  • Intelligent irrigation
  • Low-flow fixtures in restrooms and common spaces
  • Tenant education and engagement campaigns

For the full white paper, click here.