In today’s world, sustainable designs and eco-friendly amenities have become important elements of apartment living. Issues such as climate change and climbing energy costs are high priorities for many people, including renters.
How apartments are embracing eco-friendly trends
Utilizing existing infrastructure
As communities navigate a hybrid work environment and new life balance, decreased demand for large office spaces and attractions like malls and hotels creates potential opportunities to repurpose these existing spaces into housing. Buildings must undergo evaluations to ensure that they can be turned into homes — but once they are approved, property owners and developers can repurpose buildings rather than start from scratch.
Using existing infrastructure also allows for less waste and lower carbon usage than what comes with sourcing new materials and construction, in addition to monetary and time savings. Repurposed homes also preserve the architectural features and history of their communities.
Designing with sustainability in mind
Many newly constructed apartment buildings are designed with a focus on sustainability. Rather than using new materials and inflicting environmental damage, buildings are incorporating materials like brick and recycled or reused wood to complete construction projects.
Another sustainable approach is to increase the size and number of windows in a home to help maximize the use of natural light. Not only does sunlight cut down on the need for artificial light, it also offers physical and mental health benefits for residents. More buildings are also utilizing paint and carpets with low volatile organic compounds (VOCs) to reduce the number of organic pollutants in the air and keep residents healthier.
Sustainable design can prove to be cost-effective as well. Apartments that have roofs with high solar reflectivity indexes reflect solar heat and help lower the inside temperature, which reduces the need for air conditioning and helps keep energy prices low.
Not only is smart technology popular with younger renters, it also offers greater environmental benefits. Popular eco-friendly items include LED lightbulbs, motion detectors and adjustable lights, plus energy-efficient washers, dryers and dishwashers — all of which can help save on energy usage and costs. Similarly, low-flow sinks, toilets and shower-heads help minimize water use, bringing down waste and water bills.
Apartments are also incorporating technology like Nest thermostats and Amazon’s Alexa, 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 sustainably.
The benefits of eco-friendly apartment living extend to the various amenities offered by apartment communities. In addition to the typical amenities like pools and gyms, many communities are utilizing more sustainable services such as trash and recycling pickup right at residents’ doorsteps. These services require little effort on the part of the resident and encourage them to be sustainably-minded.
Another set of amenities that are becoming increasingly standard are electric-car-charging stations. Now that demand for electric vehicles is rising, more apartments are adopting these options to not only support the environment but also meet the growing needs of residents.
It’s also worth highlighting a classic staple of sustainable apartment living: community gardens. Community gardens enhance the living experience for residents, with clean air, fresh produce and waste reduction all key among the benefits of growing plants. Having access to a community garden allows residents to connect with the Earth, learn how to garden and meet and socialize with their neighbors.
Embracing eco-friendly practices not only encourages current residents to be more environmentally conscious — it also highlights to prospective residents the apartment community’s emphasis on sustainability. Through habit shifts and innovative adoptions to our everyday lives, we can make a lasting impact in our communities and beyond to help create a more efficient and sustainable future for everyone.
Robert Pinnegar is president and CEO of the National Apartment Association in Arlington, Va.