Archives: September 21, 2023

Know all about sinking fund

Sinking Fund: What it is & how it is calculated

Ever wondered what that sinking fund entry is on your housing society maintenance invoice? Generally speaking, a sinking fund is an account where you set aside money to pay off a debt or for a planned expense. In the context of a gated community, a sinking fund has a similar purpose. There are specific rules for its calculation and usage.

What is a sinking fund in a housing society?

A sinking fund for a gated community has a similar purpose as in the case of personal finances. The main intention is to ensure that there are enough funds for necessary structural repairs or to plan for a contingency. A sinking fund ensures that the community is not overwhelmed by debt or an urgent expense. 

Many of the facilities and infrastructure in gated communities are depreciating assets. A sinking fund ensures that necessary repairs can be undertaken without worrying about the cost. It offers financial protection for any urgent expense. 

What is a sinking fund utilised for?

A sinking fund is meant for major undertakings like structural repairs. Unlike regular maintenance, these include heavy repairs or reconstruction. However, any resolution to deploy the fund must be passed by the general body of the society. In addition, it must be as per the guidance and opinion of the society architect. 

How is the sinking fund calculated in a housing society?

As per the Bye Law No. 13 (C), “The General Body can decide the Sinking Fund contribution, subject to the minimum of 0.25% per annum of the construction cost of each flat incurred during the construction of the building of the Society and certified by the Architect, excluding the proportionate cost of the land”.

In practice, these provisions can be less than straightforward. The construction cost can be different for each flat, depending on its size and even the date of construction. The cost may be difficult to estimate where the builder has marked up the costs. Hence, housing societies often have to explore alternative means to calculate sinking funds. 

One of the common alternatives is to take the reconstruction cost as the base for all calculations. This ensures that the calculations are based on current rates and there are no discrepancies. However, this rate must be decided in consultation with the society architect.

Know more

ApnaComplex offers a data repository where you can find all critical information. You can check your maintenance invoice for sinking fund charges. 
Want to know more about maintenance charges? Read our article to Know all about Society Maintenance Charges. Find out how ApnaComplex facilitates society maintenance here. Worried about escalating maintenance charges. Discover the secret to reducing your society’s maintenance fee!


Switching to sustainable energy solutions

How gated communities can transition to sustainable energy systems

Energy consumption in the residential sector accounts for very high usage, second only to the industrial sector. Consequently, bringing down this high energy consumption is often one of the biggest priorities for gated communities. However, short of switching off the power supply, bringing down usage can be nearly impossible. The solution, therefore, lies in switching to sustainable energy solutions. 

What is sustainable energy? 

Sustainable energy refers to those power sources that can be replenished within a human lifetime and cause no carbon emissions. Thus, it does not harm the atmosphere or contribute to global warming. The four main types of sustainable energy sources are solar power, wind power, bioenergy, and hydroelectric power. 

For gated communities, solar panels have emerged as one of the most effective sustainable energy solutions. You can read more about its benefits in our article Solar Energy: A Sustainable Solution for Housing Societies.

How to transition to sustainable energy system 

Switching to sustainable energy systems can require modifications in both infrastructure and resident consumption habits. This can cause disruptions and resistance from residents affected by the change. Hence, it is critical to follow a phased and planned transition to sustainable energy systems: 

Conduct an energy audit

Start by understanding the current energy consumption patterns within the community. Identify which areas consume the most energy, such as lighting, heating, cooling, and common facilities. ApnaComplex Metered Utility Billing helps keep track of all metered utilities including electricity. 

Set clear sustainability goals

Setting goals is important to check progress. It sets the purpose and forms a driving factor for all sustainability initiatives. Achieving these targets can also be a powerful motivator in continuing with sustainability initiatives. Establish clear goals and objectives for transitioning to sustainable energy. Define targets for reducing carbon emissions, energy consumption, and cost savings.

Community Engagement

Gathering member consensus is critical since transitioning to sustainable solutions can involve sizeable investments. Everyone must be on the same page when it comes to adopting sustainable consumption habits and investment in infrastructure modifications. 

Conduct meetings or surveys to educate them about the benefits of sustainable energy and gather their input and support. You can also invite sustainability experts for workshops and help answer resident questions. Sustainability goals should be seen as a common community objective rather than an arbitrary decision by Management Communities or Resident Welfare Associations. 

Assess renewable energy sources

Evaluate the renewable energy resources available in the community’s vicinity. This could include solar, wind, geothermal, or even micro-hydro power, depending on the location and resources. Small-scale wind turbines may work if the community is in a windy area. In most cases, rooftop solar panels are the most applicable solution. 

Invest in smart energy-efficient appliances

Sustainable technology is our biggest friend when it comes to retrofitting buildings.

  • Upgrade common area lighting and appliances to energy-efficient LED lights and energy star-rated appliances. 
  • Implement motion sensors and timers to reduce unnecessary energy consumption.
  • Invest in energy storage systems like lithium-ion batteries to store excess energy generated by renewable sources for use during non-peak hours or emergencies.
  • Implement a smart grid system to optimize energy distribution, monitor usage, and reduce wastage. 

Energy-efficient landscaping

Use landscaping techniques to provide shade, reduce heat absorption, and improve insulation around buildings, reducing the need for air conditioning.

Installing EV charging stations

Install EV (electric vehicle) charging stations within the community to encourage residents to switch to electric vehicles. If your community is yet to make the switch, read our article Gated Communities Must Move Towards eMobility. Here’s How.

Financial incentives

Look for subsidies, tax breaks, incentives and rebates at the state, or central level to offset the initial costs of renewable energy installations. For instance, housing societies can apply for a 30% subsidy from the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy for rooftop solar panel installation. 

Maintenance and monitoring

Establish a routine maintenance schedule to ensure all equipment continues to operate effectively. Implement monitoring systems to detect and address issues promptly. This can include additional training for the maintenance staff. 

Educate and encourage residents

Conduct workshops and educational programs to teach residents about energy conservation and how to use the new sustainable energy systems effectively. Repeated messaging is important to ensure that residents stay aware. 

Long-term planning

Develop a long-term sustainability plan that includes periodic evaluations and updates to incorporate new technologies and practices as they become available.

Partnerships and community resources

Collaborate with local energy providers, environmental organisations, and sustainability experts to gain knowledge, resources, and support for the transition.

Transitioning to sustainable energy solutions in gated communities requires careful planning, investment, and collaboration. It can lead to reduced energy costs, lower carbon emissions, and a more environmentally responsible and resilient community. Learn about more such initiatives in our article 5 Sustainable Living Practices Every Gated Community should Adopt.


Solar powering communities - challenges & solutions

Get the Solar Edge – Resolving challenges in transitioning to clean energy

Transitioning to a sustainable energy infrastructure is the biggest challenge facing gated communities today. Solar energy systems have emerged as one of the most viable and economical alternatives to conventional power sources. However, challenges still remain in adopting solar panels.

Transitioning to solar panels

There are many benefits in transitioning to solar-powered systems. Our article Solar Energy: A Sustainable Solution for Housing Societies explains these in detail. Housing societies use solar panels to power a range of appliances, from water heaters to ensuring power backup

However, the adoption is not without challenges. Read below some of the common roadblocks you may face along with some possible solutions.

Gathering consensus

Investing in a solar-powered infrastructure requires upgrades to existing systems. Depending on the scale, these enhancements can be extensive. Since this is a long-term investment, you cannot undertake it without the agreement of the committee members. Despite its benefits, management committees often face disagreements and reluctance from some quarters on issues like cost of installation.

Hence, gathering consensus is critical to get the project going. Provided all the members with detailed information on solar panels, their scope, benefits, and installation costs. 

Space & load-bearing issues

Rooftops with ample sunlight are preferred for installation. However, the roof must have the load-bearing capacity to bear the panels. It is critical that you start with an engineer assessing the roof’s capacity. An expert can also advise on optimising your roof space and strengthening its ability to withstand the panels’ weight.

Electrical Infrastructure

You cannot install the panels without a proper assessment of the society’s electrical infrastructure. Possible changes may include upgrades in the capacity of transformers, distribution lines, and meters. Since solar panels produce DC current, you will also need inverters to convert this to AC current used in homes. 

You must also decide between on-grid or off-grid connection. An on-grid connection has lower installation and maintenance costs. Off-grid systems are comparatively expensive but have the self-dependency that comes from using batteries for power storage. It’s important these details are properly considered before a decision is made. 

Financing 

The upfront costs of installing a solar energy system are considerable. The commercials can be the biggest roadblock, often overturning wide consensus. However, the cost must be viewed against the long-term savings on electricity bills and as a step towards self-sufficiency. Residential societies can also apply for a 30% subsidy by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy for rooftop solar panel installation. In addition, societies can also claim reductions in income tax. 

Capacity building and training

The vendor carrying out the installation is also typically responsible for any major repairs or servicing. However, the society must be capable of daily management and maintenance of their solar energy systems. The society must appoint a designated team to effectively manage such requirements. The team should be trained by the vendor in carrying out on-spot maintenance activities. 

Looking for the right vendor

Fortunately for the consumers, the solar panel industry is a fiercely competitive market. So, it’s best to pick a vendor who can extend support from pre- to post-installation. This includes rooftop inspection, installation, financing support, and annual maintenance. Also, make sure the vendor has a BIS certification.  

ApnaComplex has been working with Management Committees and Resident Welfare Associations in connecting with leading solar panel vendors. If interested, you can reach out to us at support@apnacomplex or call 80886 11229.