Use of existing infrastructure
As communities navigate hybrid work environments and new life balances, reduced demand for large office spaces and attractions such as malls and hotels creates potential opportunities to repurpose these existing spaces into housing. The buildings must undergo assessments to ensure they can be converted into homes – but once approved, property 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 lower carbon use than what comes with sourcing new materials and construction, in addition to saving money and time. Remodeled homes also preserve the architectural features and history of their communities.
Design with sustainability in mind
Many newly constructed residential buildings are designed with an emphasis on sustainability. Instead of using new materials and causing damage to the environment, buildings incorporate materials such as bricks and recycled or reused wood to complete construction projects.
Another sustainable approach is to increase the size and number of windows in the home to help maximize the use of natural light. Sunlight not only reduces the need for artificial light, but also offers benefits to residents’ physical and mental health. More buildings are also using low-VOC paint and carpets to reduce the number of organic pollutants in the air and keep residents healthier.
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 indoor temperatures, which reduces the need for air conditioning and helps keep energy prices low.
Not only is smart technology popular with younger renters, but it also offers greater environmental benefits. Popular eco-friendly items include LED light bulbs, motion detectors, and adjustable lights, plus energy-efficient washers, dryers, and dishwashers—all of which can help save on energy use and costs. Likewise, low-flow sinks, toilets and showers help minimize water use, reducing waste and water bills.
The apartments also include 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 sustainably.
The benefits of an eco-friendly apartment extend to the various amenities offered by residential communities. In addition to typical amenities such as pools and gyms, many communities employ more sustainable services such as trash collection and recycling right at residents’ doorsteps. These services require little effort on the part of residents and encourage them to be sustainable.
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Another set of amenities that are becoming more standard are electric car charging stations. Now that demand for electric vehicles is on the rise, more and 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 improve the living experience of residents with clean air, fresh produce and reduced waste, which are key benefits of growing plants. Access to a community garden allows residents to connect with the Earth, learn how to garden, and meet and interact with their neighbors.
Adopting green practices not only encourages current residents to be more environmentally conscious—it also emphasizes to future residents the housing community’s emphasis on sustainability. Through changes in habits and innovative approaches to our daily lives, we can make a lasting impact in our communities and beyond to help create a more efficient and sustainable future for all.
Robert Pinegar is president and CEO of the National Apartment Association in Arlington, Virginia.