“Green Housing” Buildings & Eco-Friendly Apartments: What You Need to Know

Eco-friendly apartments and sustainable green apartment buildings are taking over the market, and the research is clear: both buyers and renters want environmentally-conscious homes. These homes and buildings have lower energy costs, such as water, heating, and cooling, as well as a greener footprint. 

You don’t have to be buying to ensure that your flat is as planet-friendly as possible. Throughout the planet the number of green apartment buildings and rental homes that are not only built sustainably but offer further luxury to one you feel happy at home.

How to Find an Eco-Friendly and Sustainable Apartment

According to the Home Dweller, “when browsing apartment listings and going to viewings, you can look for certain phrases that will give you a hint as to their sustainability, for both the planet and your wallet. Words like “high-efficiency”, which can indicate appliances that use less water, less energy, and etc.”

Look into Energy-saving Appliances for Eco-friendly Flats

Ask if the appliances in the unit are Energy Star certified, or if there are energy-saving settings on appliances like washing machines/dryers, refrigerators, and dishwashers. Many apartment listing websites allow you to search for specific keywords, so you could search for:

  • “Efficient” 
  • “Solar”
  • “Sustainable”
  • “Eco-friendly” 

to narrow down listings that directly appeal to what you are looking for.

Ask for Upgraded Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning System

Internal building systems are of huge importance to energy efficiency. While older buildings may not offer it, renovated and new green apartment complexes have MEP energy modeling done, a modern age HVAC system, thorough insulation, and smart home appliances.

Don’t be afraid to ask! 

Having an updated, efficient HVAC system in your home or building can lower your utility costs, as well as lessen the amount of fuel waste emitted from the furnace during use. 

Energy-efficient HVAC systems use, on average, 33% less fuel, and can save up to 35% in energy costs for green apartment buildings.

Check for Smart Home Automation Devices 

Technology has begun to play a role in the sustainable homes movement. Things like smart thermostats and Wi-Fi-connected light controls can help keep energy use in check. 

Some smart thermostats can detect how many people are in a specific room and adjust the temperature accordingly, making sure that you’re not blasting heat or A/C into rooms that no one in the house is even using. 

Smart technology is another aspect you can search for directly in apartment listings using a keyword filter.

Pay Attention to the Quality and Quantity of Windows

Windows can make a large difference in the energy consumption of your home. Houses and apartments that are built with more windows let in more sunlight and warmth, reducing the need to keep the lights on or the heat up during the day. 

Though maximum natural light is in high-demand among renters, if the windows are old and drafty, they may end up wasting more energy and costing you more money. While you may like to keep the windows open to the breeze in the warmer months instead of turning on the AC, having drafty windows in the winter can make your home cold, unpleasant, and more expensive to heat. 

Ask whether the windows in the apartment have been replaced recently and whether they are certified efficient windows. This can include extra insulation and sealing, multiple panes, or special coatings.

Search for a LEED-Certified Apartment Building

According to William Bolls, an award-winning New York City Real Estate Agent for over 15 years, “for those who really want to ensure that they are living in a space that is as eco-friendly as possible, look for LEED-certified or even Passive House-certified buildings. These certifications are given to buildings that were constructed with very specific standards for sustainability and efficiency while creating less waste and energy use.”

LEED-certification, the most widely used, can be given to new building construction as well as renovations, so long as the renovations meet the standards, and can be found in skyscrapers, high-rise homes, single family homes, apartment buildings, and other environmentally friendly housing.

How to Create an Eco-Friendly Flat

Once you’ve found an apartment you love that meets the sustainability standards you’re looking for, you can take further steps to make your living space greener.

Bring Plants to your Life

Greenery beats HEPA filters, purifiers of debris and toxins than most man-made gear. It’s a well-known fact that plants filter oxygen and affect humidity. The best piece of advice is to grow herbs and edibles. 

Save Water

  • Install low-flow shower-heads and dual-flush toilet conversion kits to save huge amounts of water (be sure to check with your landlord first). 
  • Always start your dishwasher or washing machine when they are fully loaded. If these appliances operate half-empty, they will waste a substantial amount of water. Another reason to do a full load of laundry is to avoid extra friction of synthetic clothes. When these fabrics rub inside the washing machine, they release microplastics which end up in oceans and rivers.
  • Stop the water from running while you brush your teeth. You can do the same when you wash your hair or shave your legs in the shower.
  • Invest in an aerating filter for the sinks in your bathroom and kitchen. This attachment will allow you to minimize the amount of water used for washing.

Reduce Electricity Use and Save Energy

No matter where you live, it’s important to take stock of your energy use. With heating and cooling accounting for almost half of the average monthly energy bill per person, as well as a large chunk of the population’s total carbon emissions each year, there are little things you can do that make a big difference overall. 

  • Often utility companies have a “green power” option; if you are responsible for your utilities as a tenant, you should call and find out if you have the option to switch to a more environmentally friendly usage plan. If it’s possible, purchase energy-efficient appliances that have an ENERGY STAR label to help reduce greenhouse gases by using less energy.
  • Switch light bulbs to either CFLs or LEDs. It makes a big difference in energy use and cost. According to Jordan Vellutini, managing director of Westline Electrical Services, CFLs (Compact Fluorescents) give off less heat (and on warmer days, use less energy to cool your space), last longer, and thus are energy efficient.
  • Make sure you weather strip doors and windows will reduce drafts and the amount of heating and cooling your home needs to stay at the right temperature.
  • Mind how many appliances are plugged into outlets when not in use. Taking stock of this drastically cuts back on energy use because even though things are not in use, being connected to an outlet means there is still electricity in use to power it up and make it run once you flip that switch. Use a surge protector with a power switch that can help you manage your appliances even when you aren’t around.
  • Remember to unplug your TV, laptop, microwave, phone chargers and other devices when you are planning to be out of the apartment for a long period, e.g. when you are travelling. This will decrease the energy usage of your property.

If you live in an apartment that does not allow you to control the temperature, it’s crucial to be diligent about how much energy you use.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Repair, and Compost

  • Ask if your new building participates in recycling and/or composting to help reduce your own personal footprint. 
  • Aim for a zero waste bathroom and kitchen. According to Antonia from Escape Waste, there are several easy plastic-free substitutes to implement for a more eco-friendly flat: solid shampoo bars, safety razor, bamboo toothbrush, cotton pads, wooden dish brushes, loofah sponges, beeswax wraps, glass food containers, bamboo or stainless steel utensils, French press for plastic-free coffee and tea.
  • Don’t rush to throw away broken and outdated appliances or pieces of furniture. Give them a second life by repairing or reupholster them. Another idea is to donate or sell any unwanted items that can still be of use to somebody else.
  • The same goes for when you need to add an appliance. Try to find it second hand or borrow from a friend if possible.

Tips for Environmentally Friendly Apartments

For many, the thought of eco-friendly living might conjure up images of something like granola in mason jars, patchouli-scented soaps and hemp hand towels. Or maybe it makes you think of intensely modern homes with solar panels, futuristic gadgets and an electric car plugged into the garage—a lifestyle that’s expensive and out of reach. 

Whatever your impression of sustainable living, the important thing to note is that although it may be require a little change from your normal routine, it’s really pretty simple.

If you are living in a small space, like an apartment, then you’ve already got a head start! Smaller spaces are much easier to manage, have less room for storage and more need for efficiency, and require less maintenance overall. 

Win-win, right? 

So, to help you get started with your eco endeavor, our friends at Modernize gathered the below-listed ways to help you incorporate eco-friendly living into your apartment life.

Be More Mindful in the Kitchen

The kitchen is the heart of our home and the heart of many sustainable habits as well. Here, you can make daily choices that have far-reaching, positive effects, so it’s worth making the change and taking the plunge. 

Even if you’re more focused on creating an urban chic look with new cherry java kitchen cabinets, you can still take positive steps toward a greener lifestyle.

  • Eliminate the use of single-use, 
  • Disposable plastics like Saran wrap and plastic bags that are harmful to our fragile ecosystem. 
  • Replace them with reusable containers, bottles and even beeswax wrap instead!
  • Become familiar with your local recycling practices and learn how to properly recycle various materials. Knowing how they operate can you help contribute to those efforts
  • Compost your food scraps! Composting helps to enrich the soil and provide more oxygen to the atmosphere. It also helps avoid adding to ever-accumulating landfills through the natural process of biodegradation. Many stores sell small composting containers that are easy to transport to your waste management center or local community garden for proper disposal.

Be a Conscious Consumer

Being choosy about what products you bring into your apartment makes you more aware of your role as a consumer—and it’s a powerful one, indeed! Chances are that if you have a small space you will be better off not filling it up with stuff and making the most of your home instead. Living a sustainable lifestyle, whether in an apartment or a three-story home, requires careful consideration about each and every purchase no matter how small.

Accumulate less and reduce your paper trail by unsubscribing from mailing lists. “Opt-out” of unsolicited mail like credit card offers and catalogs to drastically cut back on the amount of wasted paper. If you happen to get some then be sure to recycle it.

Use non-toxic and biodegradable soaps, cleaning products and detergents—or even make your own! Many products contain harmful chemicals that seep into our bloodstream and our waterways and only continue to do more damage from there. Making the switch could mean a world of difference for both you and the planet’s health.

Fill your apartment with multi-purposeful objects. Decorative accents like baskets, can also function as great storage, reducing the need to purchase throwaway items. The more you love and appreciate your stuff, the more important its longevity will be. Sustainability never means sacrificing style!

Let us know what you think in the comments section below. And start your search for an eco-friendly apartment with Rentable.

Be the Change

Remember that you can help make a difference to the planet and to the environment through your living space, even if you aren’t buying a home yourself. The green movement is growing, from overlanding popularity to eco-friendly updates at home and beyond, your options for environmentally friendly and sustainable housing are more plentiful than ever.