How apartments embrace environmental trends

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In today’s world, sustainable design and environmentally friendly amenities have become important elements of living in an apartment. Issues such as climate change and rising energy costs are top of mind for many people, including renters.

To meet the need and desire for green living spaces, here are some eco-conscious trends that are quickly gaining momentum in multifamily communities:

Use of existing infrastructure

As communities navigate a hybrid work environment and new life balances, the decline in demand for large office space and attractions such as shopping centers and hotels creates potential opportunities to repurpose existing space into housing. The buildings must be assessed to ensure they can be converted into homes, but once approved, owners and developers can repurpose the buildings rather than start from scratch.

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Using existing infrastructure also allows for less waste and less carbon use than what comes with sourcing new materials and construction, in addition to saving money and time. Repurposed houses also preserve the architectural features and history of their communities.

Design taking into account environmental friendliness

Many newly built apartment buildings are designed with an emphasis on environmental friendliness. Instead of using new materials and harming the environment, buildings incorporate materials such as brick and recycled or reused wood to complete construction projects.

Another green approach is to increase the size and number of windows in the home to make the most of natural light. Sunlight not only reduces the need for artificial lighting, but also ensures the physical and mental health of residents. More buildings are also using low-VOC paint and carpets to reduce organic pollutants in the air and keep occupants healthy.

Sustainable design can also be cost-effective. Apartments that have roofs with a high solar reflectance index reflect the sun’s heat and help lower the temperature inside, which reduces the need for air conditioning and helps keep energy prices low.

Smart technology is not only popular with young renters, but also provides more environmental benefits. Popular eco-friendly products include LED light bulbs, motion detectors, and dimmable lights, as well as energy-efficient washers, dryers, and dishwashers—all of which can help save on energy use and costs. Similarly, low-flow sinks, toilets and showers help minimize water use, reducing waste and water bills.

The apartments also use technology such as Amazon’s Nest and Alexa thermostats, which allow residents to control heating, air conditioning and lighting from their phones. Such innovations allow residents to enjoy the convenience of automation while saving on energy costs and living green.

The benefits of eco-friendly apartment living extend to the variety of amenities that apartment communities offer. In addition to the typical amenities like pools and gyms, many communities use greener services like trash and recycling right at residents’ doorsteps. These services require little effort from the residents and encourage them to be environmentally friendly.

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Another set of amenities that are becoming more standard are electric vehicle charging stations. Now that the demand for electric vehicles is on the rise, more and more apartments are using these options to not only save the environment, but also meet the growing needs of residents.

It is also worth highlighting a classic element of ecological living in apartments: public gardens. Community gardens improve the lives of residents because clean air, fresh produce and reduced waste are key benefits of growing plants. Having access to a community garden allows residents to connect with the Earth, learn about gardening, and meet and interact with their neighbors.

Employing environmentally friendly practices not only encourages current residents to be more environmentally conscious, but also emphasizes the community’s emphasis on sustainability to future residents. By changing habits and innovating in our everyday lives, we can make a lasting impact in our communities and beyond to help create a more efficient and sustainable future for all.

Robert Pinnegar is president and CEO of the National Apartment Association in Arlington, Virginia.

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