Categories
Sustainability

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.

Categories
Sustainability

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.

Categories
Sustainability

Pacific Green Landscape Saves HOA Thousands of Dollars

via PacificGreenLandscapes.com

Excerpt:

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: http://www.pacificgreenlandscape.com/pacific-green-landscape-saves-hoa-thousands-dollars

Categories
Uncategorized

Sick Benefits Start July 1st 2015

All employers in the state of California must provide a minimum of 3 days paid sick leave to all employees, regardless of whether they are full or part time, starting July 1st 2015. The law affects both private and public employees. Unlike many other employment laws, there is no exemption for small businesses.

Who Is Covered?

All employees that have worked in California for 30 or more days within a year from the beginning of his/her employment will be entitled to paid sick days under the Act. Employees that are not covered by the new law are as follows:

  • Employees covered by a union contract that specifically provides paid sick leave
  • Construction employees covered by a valid union contract
  • State provides of in-home supportive services
  • Certain air carrier employees

How is Paid Sick Leave Calculated?

There are a couple ways to calculate the paid sick leave accrual. Employers can choose to allow employees to earn one hour of sick pay for every 30 hours worked, or choose to provide the full amount of leave (24 hours or three days) to the employee at the beginning of each year under an employer policy. With the first option, employees can carry over unused sick days to the next year. If employers choose to provide employees with the “lump-sum” (three days) at the beginning of the year, then the employee will not be able to carry over unused sick days.

What if I Already Have A Policy?

If the employer already has a paid time off or paid leave policy in place that meets or exceeds the minimum requirements of this Act, then they are not required to provide additional paid sick days.

What Happens When An Employee Leaves?

Good news, unlike unused vacation, sick leave under this Act does not need to be paid out and the end of employment.

 

Customers of CBM, please give us a call if you have any questions.

There are a few exceptions to the law and additional regulations that should be read over before this Act becomes effective on July 1st 2015. For more information on these and other details please visit CA.gov: http://www.dir.ca.gov/dlse/Paid_Sick_Leave.htm

Categories
Sustainability

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.

Categories
Castle Breckenridge

Castle Breckenridge Management Raises $1500 for Together4Hope

CBM Raises $1,500

On Saturday, September 27th, the team at CastleBreckenridge Management participated in Together4Hope, a 5k walk to support cancer research. We arrived at 7:30am to DeAnza Cove where we met fellow walkers and our CBM teammates. There was a great turn out and everyone was excited to get moving!

We were led in a group stretch and light aerobics, and then we were off! 45 minutes later, we crossed the finish line to sweet victory. Even better than the early morning exercise was meeting our team fundraising goal of $1500!Proceeds go to City of Hope, an organization dedicated to cancer research,treatment, and education. Their objective is to ensure that people all over the world are able to live long, fulfilling lives, free of life-threatening diseases.

Thanks to everyone who came out to support us on Saturday and those who donated to Team CBM. It’s an incredible feeling to support this worthy cause and we couldn’t have done it without your help!

 

-CBM Team

Categories
Property Management Tips

Benefits of Paying Dues Online

Many Property Management and Homeowners Associations (HOA’s) are accepting monthly dues payments online. What does this mean for residents?

1. Save on checks and mailing supplies all while protecting the environment

Have you ever thought about how much it costs to mail your dues check each month? Let’s break it down: Box of checks = $20, Pack of envelopes = $3, Ever-increasing cost of stamps = $5.88. That’s over $30 spent each year just on getting your dues check to your manager! Paying online will save you both time and money. Also, by cutting down on the use of paper, you’re helping the environment. It’s a win-win!

2. Build credit and earn rewards points

Do you have a credit card that offers rewards? Some cards offer reward points for special items or cash back on all purchases, which means you could be making money each time you pay your dues. Additionally, many companies will report your payments to the credit bureau, which is a wonderfully easy way to increase your FICO score. But make sure you don’t miss a payment-just as it can help build credit, it could potentially lower your score if a late payment is reported, which brings us to our next point:

3. Never worry about being late and avoid additional fees

Have you ever forgotten to put your dues check in the mail on time? It happens to just about everyone at some point, and it can cost you. Late fees are typically tacked on when your rent arrives after the due date. Some companies offer a grace period, but not all, and it’s important to keep payments current. When paying online, most companies will allow you to set automatic withdrawals. This means that you can choose to have the payment taken out on the same day each month, alleviating worries of late fees.

4. Easily view payment history at a glance

Say adios to that ledger-you’ll no longer need to keep your receipt book close by. With online payments, you can simply log into your account and view payment history at any time. When tax season rolls around and you need a statement, or you’re looking to make a big purchase that requires proof of payment history, the information is readily available.

5. Safety of processing online/electronically

In today’s world, it’s arguably more secure to pay dues online than it is to use the postal service. Each payment is processed through a secure server, ensuring that your sensitive information is protected.

If the thought of trips to the management office before they close, or paying frustrating late fees is unappealing to you, then online payment is the right choice. Contact your Property Manager or HOA today to find out if it’s available for you!

Categories
Property Management Tips

Brush Clearance: Protecting Your Home From Brush Fires

As summer comes to a bittersweet end and fall begins to slowly creep in, the allure of pumpkin flavored beverages and cool weather are hard to resist. In Southern California, fall also hails a growing concern of spontaneous and potentially devastating wildfires. Fortunately, taking the proper precautions can prevent fires, and it starts right in your backyard.

The easiest way to alleviate worry is to do preventative maintenance on your property. Dry brush is abundantly found in our area and can be a major catalyst for wildfires. By clearing unwanted brambles and shrubs, you’re doing more than just protecting your own home. You’re protecting your neighborhood.

Here are a few ways to safely clear brush from your land:

  • Hire a local company
  • Use goats
  • DIY
  • Contract with your city

Local companies have the necessary equipment to get the job done quickly and safely. Typically, they’ll provide you with a free estimate upon reviewing your property, and depending on the amount of brush to clear, can have the job done in just a couple of days.

Goats may not be the first solution you think of when considering brush abatement options, but using them is actually quite normal-and natural! Considering most people don’t own them, there are companies who will rent them by the day or week. All you have to do is make sure your property is full enclosed and set them free to munch on tasty weeds.

If you choose to remove brush yourself, you’ll want to secure the proper permits beforehand. Visit your local government’s website or give them a call to learn exactly what you’ll need. If you rent, be sure to ask your Property Manager how they plan to handle the clearance and how you can help prepare for their visit. Some cities have special permit restrictions and requirements and you’ll want to know about these before you start clearing.

Some cities will take care of the clearance for you, but it will likely come at a much higher cost than the other options. The price for city abatements are set by contract agreements and are often extremely high compared to hiring a private company.

A few tips should you decide to tackle the clearance on your own:

Do not clear brush during peak temperatures-11:00am and 3:00pm-or when a Red Flag Alert has been declared by your fire department.
Always have a reliable water source on hand. Keep a couple of buckets full of water, a hose, or a fire extinguisher nearby.
Don’t forget the basics: tools like shovels and handsaws will make the job much easier.

 

Useful Links:
http://www.sandiego.gov/fire/services/brush/

Additional Questions:
http://www.sandiego.gov/fire/services/brush/faqs.shtml