Reduce impact fees

How Multifamily Developers Can Reduce Impact Fees with Water-Efficient Design

In the ever-evolving landscape of urban development, affordability remains at the forefront of developers’ minds. Amidst the towering skyscrapers and bustling city streets, multifamily housing stands as a beacon of attainability for many urban dwellers. Yet, behind the facade of affordability lies a complex web of expenses, one of the most significant being the often-overlooked impact fees. 

In this article, we delve into the profound implications of water fees on multifamily projects, exploring how developers navigate these costs to ensure both profitability and accessibility for residents.

The Impact Fee Blues

Water impact fees, levied by municipalities to fund infrastructure expansions necessitated by new developments, pose a significant financial burden on multifamily projects. These fees, calculated based on the projected water consumption of development, can skyrocket, particularly in regions grappling with water scarcity or aging infrastructure. For developers, grappling with such expenses presents a dual challenge: balancing the imperative of affordability with the necessity of securing crucial development resources.

The Water-Efficient Counter Offensive

As developers strive to mitigate these costs, they are compelled to adopt innovative measures to reduce water consumption and maximize efficiency. In doing so, they can potentially affect impact fees in two crucial ways:

Reduced Demand, Reduced Fees

Lower overall water consumption produces a demonstrably lower strain on the existing system. This empowers you to negotiate with municipalities to reduce impact fees based on your projected water usage efficiency. Think of it as presenting evidence to show you’re a water-conscious citizen deserving of a lighter financial burden.

Maximizing Existing Infrastructure

By utilizing water efficiently, your development can function within the capacity of the existing municipal system, delaying the need for costly infrastructure upgrades. This saves you from contributing heavily to new infrastructure costs and benefits the water provider. By using less water, you extend the life of their existing system, keeping them from significant debt or capital improvement projects. It’s a win-win for everyone’s wallets (and the environment).

The Water-Saving Arsenal

Now, let’s get tactical. Here are some critical water-efficient design strategies to consider:

Water-Saving Fixtures

This is low-hanging fruit. Equipping units with low-flow faucets, showerheads, and toilets certified by the Environmental Protection Agency’s WaterSense® program can significantly reduce water usage without compromising functionality. Every drop saved adds up!

Appliance Efficiency 

Encourage the use of WaterSense® labeled dishwashers and washing machines. These appliances use less water per cycle, making a big difference in overall water consumption, especially in multi-unit settings.

Smart Irrigation

Invest in efficient irrigation systems in common areas that use sensors and timers to optimize watering based on weather conditions and actual needs. Your landscaping will thank you (and the water bill will be happier, too).

Drought-Resistant Landscapes

Mother Nature offers a plethora of beautiful, low-water-using plants. Opt for drought-resistant landscaping and drip irrigation systems to minimize landscape water consumption. A vibrant, water-conscious landscape is achievable.

Smart Water Monitoring & Leak Detection

Leaks and inefficient water practices can waste thousands of gallons of water – and inflate your water bill. Smart water monitoring and leak detection systems use real-time data to track water consumption and identify inefficiencies and leaks before they cause a financial burden.

The International Green Construction Code (IgCC)

This comprehensive code outlines a framework for designing and constructing sustainable buildings. The IgCC offers specific water efficiency requirements, including those mentioned above. By adhering to these guidelines, developers can demonstrate their commitment to sustainability and potentially reduce their water usage and projected impact fees.

Collaboration is Key: The Power of Teamwork

Beyond design, collaboration is your secret weapon. Here’s how to leverage it:

Engage with Water Providers

Open communication with water providers is critical. They understand the current system capacity and can offer valuable insights. Explore opportunities to demonstrate your lower water footprint through projected usage data based on your design features. You can develop mutually beneficial strategies to reduce reliance on new infrastructure.

Data-Driven Advocacy

Knowledge is power. Collect and present data on projected water usage based on your efficient design features and adherence to industry standards like the IgCC. This empowers you to advocate for impact fee structures that reflect your specific, lower water demands. Show them the numbers, and watch the impact fees shrink.

The Takeaway: A Sustainable Future for All

By prioritizing water-efficient design and fostering collaborative partnerships with water providers, multifamily developers can create more sustainable communities and slay the impact fee dragon. Resource efficiency becomes a win-win – delivering affordability for residents, maximizing value for water providers, and ensuring the long-term sustainability of our most precious resource, water.

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