I own a condo (actually a summer vacation home) in the southeastern part of Georgia. It’s located in a small beach town roughly 22 miles east of Savannah on one of Georgia’s barrier islands called Tybee Island. Over the past several years the island has made some pretty significant strides towards becoming an ecologically friendly beach community. In the last couple of years Tybee has added bike trails throughout the island, increased the number of walking trails and has adopted an island wide recycling program. Most recently they implemented a study to see if wind turbines could be used to help defer the electric used by the islands waste water treatment plant (the single largest use of electric on the island). In addition, many of Tybee’s residents have begun doing their part to help make the island stand out as an eco friendly community.
I’m rather new to the island since I only purchased my condo a couple years ago on an impulse decision. I work as a real estate investor and spend quite a bit of time traveling across the country to attend different county tax sales. Although I mainly invest in tax lien certificates, I will on occasion attend a county tax deed auction. Two years ago I traveled to Georgia to attend one of their monthly tax deed sales and ended up purchasing the deed to my condo. I’m not able to visit the island as often as I would like to but, I do make it a point to attend the yearly home owner’s association meeting. This years meeting was important to me since the focus of the meeting dealt with making our condo community environmentally friendly.
As our meeting began it was announced that there would be two specific areas of focus for that nights meeting:
- Reducing energy costs to create an eco friendly resort complex
- Reduce health risks for the owners and guests
To determine the best ways for reducing energy costs, the board had hired a consultant to study the energy uses throughout our facility and to prepare a report on methods to reduce energy consumption; both within our units as well as around the facility. The association discussed the recommended changes and agreed to the following:
- Incandescent light bulbs would be replaced with energy efficient CFL bulbs
- Motion-detector lights would be used for outdoor lighting
- All new appliances need to be ENERGY STAR appliances
- All thermostats would be replaced with programmable thermostat
- New TVs need to be ENERGY STAR-qualified TVs
- Air filters on the HVAC systems would be change once each month
- New bathroom fixtures would be aerating, low-flow faucets and showerheads
To address the matter of reducing health risks throughout our community the board invited our maintenance staff to attend the meeting and offer their suggestions. The biggest concern was that we are a pet friendly resort and have many families with young children and pets visiting our facility each year. Although the facility is family friendly with a large courtyard area and playground for the children, it wasn’t necessarily the healthiest environment. Unfortunately, many pesticides were being used throughout the grounds to maintain a well groomed, manicured exterior. The maintenance staff was careful to only use the chemicals when they wouldn’t impact the guests, however, we felt that the pesticides could contaminate the water in our pools and may still pose a health threat to our guests even after the pesticides had dried and were supposedly safe. The association overwhelming agreed that the health of our families and guests is our highest priority, and from this point forward our condo community will be pesticide free. Although there may be other changes our association can make, we feel the elimination of all pesticides within our community will have the largest impact on reducing health risks.
Although I’m a new member of Tybee Island, I am proud to be associated with a community that places such a high value on doing their part to help improve our environment.