FB Live Summary: Sustainability Tips with Mike Regan

Takeaways from our conversation with Mike Regan from Pacific Green Landscape, Inc.

Property managers in Southern California have many things to consider when planning for water management through landscape on their properties; two topics that are most commonly considered in our region are drought and fire. Finding landscape and irrigation systems that are water-wise, energy efficient, and overall eco-friendly will increase your water savings while addressing those topics.

Pollutant/Pest Control

Property managers should consider bringing in landscape that may not be as susceptible to pests and need fewer chemicals or no chemicals at all to protect them from pests. Additionally, property managers should aim to have integrated pest control in their landscape. This means using plants that naturally deter pests from your property. Many plants are complementary and build a stable ecosystem in your landscape.


Property Management Sustainability Tips


Energy Efficient Design

If your property has buildings that face the sun, a good way to reduce energy costs is to use trees that lose their leaves in the winter to allow sun to come into the units and provide shade in the hotter summer months.

Capturing storm water is another method to keep your landscape efficient. Installing permeable pavers without grout lines ensure water stays on site with minimum run off. Additionally, using recycled products for soil management such as mulch, compost, and organic materials help with efficient stormwater absorption and minimizes harmful run off.

Irrigation Planning

The use of a controller is essential in proper irrigation planning for property managers. Smart controllers can be programed based on five factor parameters in addition to weather conditions to optimize time of day and amount needed for irrigation. The reason this increases your water savings is because it puts down water at the lowest rate per minute and spreads irrigation out over a period of time and not all at once.

Many may think that installing drought tolerant plant material to their landscapes will reduce water use, but what really makes a difference is a smart irrigation plan that uses water wisely. Not all areas of landscape need the same amount of water which means you can use existing landscape to minimize water use by scheduling irrigation based on sections and what those sections need. If property managers plan to adjust their irrigation system, they must first ween plants from the previous watering schedule.

Another option to increase water savings is to install drip irrigation. The reason drip systems save on water cost and usage is because these systems use gallons by the hour, not by the minute. Benefits of drip irrigation also include minimal runoff and protects buildings or hardscape from irrigation overspray.

Water costs take a large piece of a property’s budget and even with a wet winter San Diego experienced, it does not equate to lower water rates. Proper landscape planning and smart irrigation systems can be a property manager’s greatest ally.


Case Study: Sunburst HOA – Rain Harvest System



Sunburst Homeowners Association, a property managed by Castle Breckenridge Management (CBM), faced a challenge in finding a solution to flooding in an area of the apartment complex. The raised platform located in between the property’s buildings would flood and dump water at the foot of the buildings, affecting 10-15 units with water issues upon each rainfall. Sunburst HOA was using too many resources to remedy the flood situation and needed to find a more permanent solution. It needed to find a way to drain the water from the raised platform and away from the units affected by the flooding.


Space was the biggest challenge faced when finding a solution to the flooding issue for two reasons. First, CBM needed to find a water storage system that would fit underneath the flood area, yet still be large enough to effectively drain the area. Second, because the area was located in between buildings, the workspace was limited (about 192 square feet of workable space) and could not accommodate large machinery to lift the system into the area. This challenge forced the team to look for a system that was easy to move and install in the space they had, while being large enough so that they wouldn’t have to worry about flooding in the future.


CBM found a harvest and storage system that fit the needs of the property and would solve the flooding issue for good. Three RainHarvest System 1,700 gallon tanks were installed in the space and are expected to never need replacing. They are self-cleaning, but the property has implemented a maintenance schedule to ensure the life of the system. The tanks are designed to collect 5,100 gallons of water which will then be piped into irrigation channels, allowing the property to save water and solve the flooding issue it had.


  • At tank capacity, rainwater replaces potable water for irrigation by 100% for seven months out of the year
  • Full tanks would save the property up to $150 per week
  • Potential annual savings are estimated at $4,200



Rainwater Collection & Water Storage System

Collecting Rainwater for HOAs

With the California statewide drought and a general increase in environmental awareness, HOAs and association managers are turning to creative and modern solutions such as rain barrels and water collection systems to adapt to new regulations and better serve their communities. Implementing water storage systems has a number of important benefits for homes and properties.

Rainwater Collection Benefits


Recycle & Reuse Water

First and foremost, collected rainwater can be recycled and reused to cut water costs by reducing a property’s potable water consumption. Planning how collected water will be used is important when considering a storage system. For example, a three-phase electric motor component can be implemented to adjust water pressure based on use across a property. Filtration systems can filter sediment and debris to ensure outgoing water is clean.

Move Water Off Property

Water collection systems can also help facilitate the flow of water off property to prevent flooding from overflow. Storage tanks, pumps, and controllers can be installed inline with existing water drainage systems to collect and route the water. Sensors inside of water tanks monitor levels and backflow regulators provide controlled flood protection.

Considerations & Planning

A key factor to consider when planning a water collection & storage system is space and location. It’s important to understand where water falls and flows on a property to help determine efficient placement. Available space can also be an important factor when deciding on the size, capacity, and material of storage tanks. Heavier storage tanks, such as those made of concrete, may require a crane to install (and the space required to operate a crane). However, heavier duty tanks can allow for creative placement such as beneath parking areas.

Price & Logistics

Castle Breckenridge recently completed planning and installing a 5,100 gallon capacity system at one of our managed properties. The system consisted of 3x 1,700 gallon tanks, a pressure tank, motors (with three-phase electric power), pumps, backup regulators, and a controller. The system had a reasonable cost of roughly $13,000. While a system like this can typically be installed in about six days, major space constraints and a large amount of soil that had to be moved extended installation time to three weeks.


To hear more about CBM’s recent case study, listen to our podcast episode discussing the experience and tips for implementing your own water collection & storage system:


Water collection & storage systems are a smart and effective solution for modern properties. Not only do they effectively combat the California drought and cut water costs, they are popular and welcomed by homeowners as a step towards better living and a more responsible, smarter community.


FB Live Summary: Solar Rights with Bradley Schuber

Summary of our Facebook Live conversation with Bradley Schuber of Kriger Law Firm

Restrictions on Solar Energy Systems in Common Interest Developments: A Summary

In California there is a big push for solar energy and will likely see an increase in the state’s use of solar energy systems in the near future; California’s seemingly unlimited supply of sunlight gave way to its strong policy commitment to solar energy. The state’s commitment to solar policy led to the adoption of the Solar Rights Act. The Act prohibits CC&Rs from restricting the installation of solar energy systems in a common interest development with certain exceptions considered to be reasonable restrictions by the Association including:

• Cost and performance
• Alternative comparable systems
• Common area installation
• Maintenance and repairs
• Indemnification and reimbursement

Associations should review its governing documents to make sure that it provides members an approval process for an approval for installing solar energy systems. Make sure to review all requests for solar energy systems promptly and give a written response of receipt and review of application to the applicant. Always consult counsel and a solar energy professional when questions arise.


Smart Irrigation: A New Way To Save Money and Water

California’s water supply is drastically decreasing faster than it ever has before. The current dry weather patterns have put the state in its most severe drought in history. As residents of the state, there are many things homeowners can do to reduce their water consumption. The largest change homeowner’s can make to conserve water is decreasing the amount of water used on outdoor landscaping. New irrigation techniques have been developed that allow homeowners to keep their green, lush lawn while still reducing their overall consumption of water.

Smart Irrigation Control systems are a new breakthrough in irrigation technology, and provide a great way to save water in sunnier areas like San Diego. The Smart Controller is an efficient system that uses an installed sensor to determine the sprinkler run time based on local weather conditions. More specifically, the sensor measures solar radiation and temperatures. It also has the ability to access online weather data. This smart controller can save homeowners anywhere from 30%-70% in overall water usage as well as reduce water bills.

Another innovative home irrigation technique is using reclaimed water. Reclaimed water is former wastewater that has been treated to standards that allow for safe reuse. It’s a great method for sustainable landscaping irrigation and is safe for most uses except human consumption. Reclaimed water costs less than most other water sources, and even reduces the need for fertilizers, as some nutrients remain in the water.

Castle Breckenridge has worked with Pacific Green Landscape and the Westview Neighborhood Homeowners Association in installing both reclaimed water systems and Smart Controller Irrigation systems. The overall results seen were astounding. Westview HOA was able to cut their water costs in half and reduce their water consumption by about 40%. These great savings allowed the HOA to replace older landscape with water-friendly plants without raising monthly homeowner’s dues. You can find out more about this successful project at:

Contact Castle Breckenridge today to find out more about installing water friendly irrigation systems into your property. We are a leader in sustainability and are here to help you make the change towards a sustainable future.


Xeriscape Plants Conserve Water and Save Money

It’s no surprise that California is currently facing one of the most severe droughts in history. As San Diego residents, it is crucial we respond to these environmental changes by reducing our consumption of water. The easiest way to save water starts in your own backyard, and making drought-proof changes to your landscape. Xeriscape gardening is a current landscaping trend that is necessary in a place where 90% of our daily water supply is imported. With Xeriscape gardens, you are able to conserve water through creative landscaping of drought-resistant plants, while still enjoying the comfort of your own, beautiful garden.

In California, over 50% of residential water usage is applied to landscape and lawns. Changing to a Xeriscape landscape can reduce up to 75% off landscape water use, saving you time and significant amounts of money on your water bill. The maintenance requirements for Xeriscape gardens are very minimal, and the low watering requirements can be attained with simple irrigation systems. Using plants native to the San Diego area eliminates the need for fertilizers and pesticides. Your plants will receive the sufficient nutrients they need through healthy, organic soils. Xeriscape gardens are also pollution-free because there is no need for landscaping tools that use fossil fuels for power. Drought-proof landscapes are becoming much more desired among aspiring real estate owners, so installing one in your backyard can lead to a long-term increase in your property value.


Benefits of Xeriscaping


There are several great sources in the San Diego area that provide useful information and ways to get involved in conservation. The Cuyamaca Water Conservation Garden demonstrates Xeriscape gardens through excellent exhibits and provides programs that promote water conservation and the sustainable use of related natural resources. They offer a variety of fun ways to get involved and educated through classes, events, and volunteer opportunities. The San Diego County Water Authority also provides an informative brochure on the steps to going Xeriscape. You can learn everything you need to get your Xeriscape garden started here.

Contact Castle Breckenridge today to find out what you can do to upgrade your landscape into a drought-resistant oasis. We are a leader in sustainability and are here to help you make the necessary changes to your properties’ landscape. Save yourself money, reduce your carbon footprint, and ensure a positive future for the state of California.


4 Advantages of Installing Solar Power In Your Home

1. Clean Energy

Statistics show that the rate of global warming is increasing at a very rapid rate. One of the main causes of global warming is human activity and the burning of fossil fuels to drive cars, generate electricity, and operate businesses. Steps towards reducing your fossil fuel consumption can be achieved in your own home by installing solar panel systems as a source of electricity. Solar power is produced by converting sunlight into electricity, and has several long-term benefits for homeowners.

2. Geographical Advantage

The effects of solar power can be seen on a global level. In Southern California we receive an average of 5.5 hours of usable sunlight for solar panels every day. Solar modules can also produce up to 20% of the amount of power on cloudy days. When solar energy systems are integrated with battery systems, enough power is produced for up to 24 hours of electricity.

Advantages of Solar Panels


3. Reduce Carbon-Dioxide Emissions

Currently, the United States is ranked second in the world for annual carbon-dioxide emissions. The average residential solar system offsets almost 100,000 lbs. of carbon dioxide in just 20 years. That is the equivalent of driving a car for 100,000 miles. Replacing utility power can go a long way in lowering our carbon footprint as a country.

4. Property Improvement

Installing solar panels can have several positive effects on properties. The average 20-year savings for Californians who went solar is $30,000 per household. This cost saving is huge for HOA’s and other multi-family properties. Solar panels make properties more attractive on the market and increases property value. Purchasing a home with solar panels already installed translates into lower electricity costs for the buyer.

Studies have shown that homes with solar panels sell 20% faster and for 17% more money. Installing solar panels is also a secure investment. Calculations can be made to tell the homeowner exactly how much electricity will be generated and at what price for the next 20 years.


What next?

Contact Castle Breckenridge today to find out more about going solar. We are a leader in sustainability, and are here to answer all of your questions about installing solar panels onto your property. With your help we can make a difference to our planet and ensure a successful future for generations to come.


Pacific Green Landscape Saves HOA Thousands of Dollars



In 2004, Pacific Green Landscape began working for Westview Neighborhood HOA in Mira Mesa. At the time, water bills for the property including its nine acres of slopes, two acres of planters and half acre of turf were in the ball park of $16,000 a month. “With help from Pacific Green Landscape, we paid only $3,000 last month,” said John Kalas of Castle Breckenridge Management the property manager for the HOA.

With the installation of smart controllers and the use of recycled water, the Westview HOA has reduced its water consumption by about 40 percent and cut water costs in half, according to Kalas. In fact, the 12 month actuals for the cost of water show that the board spent $53,611 in 2011 and only $21,107 for the 2014 fiscal year. These savings have not only allowed the HOA to replace some of the older landscape with more attractive and water-friendly plants, but have enabled Westview HOA to continue operating without raising monthly homeowner dues in a very long time.

Read the full article here:


Sustainability in Multi-Family Complexes

Sustainability for HOAs

It’s no secret: water, sewer, electricity, and gas prices are on the rise, increasing much faster than the rate of inflation. In fact, some parts of California have seen a 15% increase in their water bills and an average increase of $85 per month in electricity in the last year.

Unfortunately, the biggest amount of people who are being effected from these rising costs are tenants and homeowners in multi-family complexes with outdated or non-energy efficient appliances. It is important for Board of Directors to take control of these costs by upgrading various portions of their properties to reduce costs. Here are some potential money saving upgrades Boards can make to “green” up their properties.

Solar Panels

Installing solar panels on a complex can not only reduce monthly electricity bills but also help slow global warming. Efficient solar panel systems create electricity without producing pollution that contributes to global warming. The average 20-year saving for Californians who went solar is $30,000 per household! Look out for combined water and solar panels hitting the marketing in the summer of 2015. This will be a huge cost savings for Multi-Family properties.

Low Flow Technology

Low flow technology is a smart addition to complexes to both save money and contribute to a low-impact lifestyle. ToolBase Services estimates that each family of four that has low flow toilets installed saves up to 22,000 gallons of water per year.

Water efficient showerheads save 10 gallons of water each per 10 minutes of showering. With multiple tenants showering everyday, that’s potentially thousands of gallons saved per month benefiting both the environment and overall water costs.

Xeriscaping & New Sprinkler Technology

Board of Directors can reduce water usage by swapping out water hungry plants for native low water shrubbery. The uses of plants that are well adapted to the both wet winters and dry summers require less water, fertilizer, and pesticides than non-native types. SoCal Water$mart offers quite a few rebate incentives for home and property owners to conserve water, including a $2 per square foot rebate for turf grass removal.

In addition to planting durable plants, it’s important to keep sprinkler systems up to date to ensure less water usage. Installing smart sprinkler controllers allow sprinklers to automatically adjust to changing weather conditions. Using smart sprinkler technology also allows owners to create custom watering schedules and timers depending on the amounts of water each plant need. The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California has plenty of resources for Californians who wish to improve on their water conservation efforts.

Losing The Lawn

California’s beautiful year round sunshine makes sustaining green, healthy lawns a pain. It is commonly assumed that property landscaping without perfectly green grass is unappealing, but the truth is that when designed right, low water landscapes can be just a beautiful as having a green lawn.

By upgrading complex appliances and hardware to “green” technologies, Boards are able to cut costs for their tenants while drastically reducing their footprint on the environment. On top of the tax and rebate incentives for eco-friendly buildings, these savings and upgrades will also enable HOA’s to advertise their properties as “Green” or “Eco-friendly” complexes, increasing the amount of future buyers and renters.

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