By Nicoleta Iudean
Environmentally friendly living is just as much a global matter, as it is (or should be) a corporate endeavor, and last but not least an individual concern. World population, cities, neighborhoods and buildings continue to grow rapidly at an alarming pace.
Going green is no longer just a vague urban trend for developers, property owners and managers of apartment buildings. It has become a double responsibility: to develop green projects (or transition existing ones to green) and to tune in to renters’ eco-conscious mind-set by nurturing and educating green communities.
Popular Green Amenities
The additional effort of implementing sustainable design and eco-friendly apartment amenities may well pay-off by attracting and retaining a rising number of green-minded renters. Studies conducted by Strata Research in 2013 shows that 77 percent of renters believe it is important that their apartment is green, and 72 percent are willing to trade off an important apartment feature (such as extra storage space or high ceilings) for ‘green’ features.
Are you keeping up with the green trends in your community? We’ve put together a comprehensive list of popular green amenities (both apartment and community oriented), that we’ve assembled by analyzing all the rental property descriptions from our nationwide rentals listing portal, RENTCafé:
- On-Site Recycling Program. The 3R’s: Reuse, Reduce, Recycle are more important than ever. Starting a comprehensive recycling program in your community, either with the help of local authorities or by contracting a private waste & recycling company , will be appreciated and may increase the community-mindedness of other residents. A robust recycling program will save you money when compared to the costs of trash disposal. In addition, this can become a strong selling point for you property! Some other related green trends are hazardous waste disposal systems and composting areas. Have you ever considered them?
- Green spaces. Do as much tasteful landscaping as your property enables you to. Renters appreciate anything that provides them with a little urban escape, such as dreamy green meadows, friendly pet walking areas, blooming trees, colorful flowers, and decorative plants displayed along sidewalks or bike paths. Another green landscaping amenity that’s trending is a rooftop garden (‘green rooftop’), which will improve air quality and reduce pollution. More importantly, it will increase energy conservation, since the plants provide natural insulation, while diminishing the flood risks.
- Energy efficiency improvements. Energy use in multi-family buildings with 5 or more residential units can be reduced significantly and upgrades can result in utility cost savings of 15-30%, according to a report released in 2012 by CNT Energy and ACEEE. Here are some of the improvements most frequently implemented: programmable thermostats, energy efficient heat pumps / windows / patio doors, energy saving light fixtures (LED technology), Energy Star stainless steel appliances, highly efficient washers and dryers in the laundry room, and even heat reflective ceilings.
- Water efficiency. Property managers can make their contribution to reducing water consumption by installing low-flow sink and bathtub faucets, showerheads and toilets, which can reduce indoor water use by 30-40%. Also some HVAC (Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning) measures can be taken, depending on each particular system. Last but not least, landscaping around buildings needs a reassessment: automatic irrigation systems with electronic controllers, soil moisture sensors, and low volume distribution devices are recommended. You should even consider planting drought-resistant species that require less humidity.
- Alternative means of transportation. One way to encourage residents to travel less by car (or even not to buy a car) is to provide bike rentals, bicycle storage facilities, and even designated paths for those who favor this activity. Also, more and more people are purchasing electronic vehicles that require charging batteries, so a charging station at the property is a great incentive for residents. Another idea to diminish the need for privately-owned cars is the Zipcar service that some properties seem to have already implemented successfully.
- Smoke-free communities. It may seem a harsh thing for smokers, but the fact is local comprehensive smoke-free laws have already impacted on hundreds of communities nationwide. We will not debate the dangers of second-hand smoking here. It only takes time, will, and careful planning to educate your communities about this new health measure. Luckily, there are many NGOs and even state laws that support such work and can facilitate the provision of materials.
- Solar panels. Is your roof providing anything else for your residents other than shelter? By investing in solar systems, managers can turn them into property income. Solar energy is the easiest way to heat up water, and it works in partnership with other existing water heating systems. In time, the investment will pay for itself.
- The use of recycled and non-toxic materials. We are more than privileged to be living in times when the diversity of products on the market is huge. You can make green choices about what to buy for your property: use non-toxic products for general cleaning and maintenance, use recycled materials to build certain amenities (such as playgrounds and common area facilities), paint the walls with low or zero VOC paint, and the list goes on and on.
What steps have you made so far in this direction? Is going green a priority for you in 2015? We’d love to hear your thoughts and comments.
Nicoleta Iudean is an online content developer and creative writer for RENTCafé, a full marketing and leasing platform featuring social media and reputation management tools, plus online leasing solutions, rent payments and maintenance request.