If you ask Mike Burgess what he appreciated most about his experience working with Efficiency Nova Scotia (ENS) and the upgrades to his apartment buildings, he might have a hard time picking. It could be how easy the application process was, the energy savings he’s now experiencing or just how much his tenants loved the upgrades.
Mike owns and manages a total of 11 residential apartment buildings for low-income families. To date, two of his 8-unit buildings have had energy efficient upgrades completed and his 13- unit is currently in the process. All three buildings are located in north end Dartmouth.
Mike decided to contact ENS after a connection at the Affordable Housing Society of Nova Scotia shared their positive experience and recommendation. From that point on, Mike found the process easy and efficient.
“Once I connected with ENS, the process was straightforward,” says Mike. “I filled out the application form and, after I was approved, an Energy Auditor came to the site to identify the opportunities and upgrades we qualified for. From there, I worked with contractors and suppliers. I’d say the whole process, start to finish, was about six months–but it could have been done quicker, it was on my end that things slowed down a bit.”
The energy efficient upgrades done to both 8-unit buildings consisted of new ENERGY STAR® certified windows and insulation, with one building also receiving new pipe insulation. Mike communicated the project to his tenants and ensured window replacements were scheduled during the day when most people were at work. He says his tenants had no complaints about the noise and interruption. Instead, his tenants were excited about the upgrades and the difference it would make to their individual comfort and the building’s appearance. “The tenants were very appreciative of the upgrades, especially the windows. The windows we replaced were 50+ years old, and you could feel a draft come through.”
In particular, Mike remembers one tenant being thrilled about the upgrades. “There is one that really stands out to me–her name is Tanya. She lives in one of the 8-unit buildings, which would have been the second building to go through these upgrades. It was funny, when she saw the windows going in the first 8-unit building, she was like: ‘When will our building be done?’ ”
When Tanya learned that Mike was planning to upgrade the building she lived in, she was ecstatic. “She was just so appreciative. As I mentioned before, they were 50-year-old windows, so to slide them open in the summer for fresh air wasn’t always easy. And, in the winter, there was a draft coming in. Not to mention, the new windows are visually more appealing.”
As a landlord for many years, Mike works hard on the regular day-to-day management and upkeep of his properties. Finding the time and the upfront expense for larger energy efficient upgrades was not an option, which is why he calls working with ENS a “no brainer”. “To have the option to have these upgrades completed and help with expenses–it was a godsend. It’s a huge capital expense that I just didn’t have. I’m constantly trying to keep everything clean, painted and keep up on minor upgrades as best as I can. These upgrades, especially the windows, helped compliment everything. It helps with the appeal of the building and the functionality for the tenants–not having to deal with those old windows and the draft in the winter.”
In addition to the improved aesthetics and happy tenants, Mike is just as pleased with the savings the upgrades are delivering. Especially with regards to heating. “I don’t have exact
data, but when I compare one of my 8-unit buildings to one of similar size, that hasn’t had these upgrades–I’d say I’m saving $3,000 to $4,000 annually in heating.”
For his commitment to his buildings and tenants, Mike was named the 2019 Income Property of the Year by the Investment Property Owners Association of Nova Scotia.
Mike continues to work closely with ENS. Currently, his 13-unit building is in the process of being upgraded with new ENERGY STAR® certified windows, insulation in the attic and basement walls and the oil heating system is being replaced with a new natural gas unit. Once completed, Mike is looking forward to enjoying the same benefits he does with his first two buildings and passing them on to his tenants.