In a world where temperatures are climbing every year and the human population continues to rise, searching for a green apartment has become a worthwhile cause, if not the new mandate. It may not seem easy to find a eco-friendly apartment, but if you know what to look for and what questions to ask, you’ll be on your way to finding your perfect sustainable home in no time! Here are some features you should be on the look out for:
LEED Certified Building
If you’re looking into green apartment living, keep your eyes pealed for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified buildings. LEED certified buildings are officially recognized for their environmentally friendly engineering. Usually this rating system takes energy efficiency, water efficiency, sensitivity to the surrounding environment, and other factors. LEED certified buildings are also guaranteed to be top of the line, newer model apartments.
Smaller Floor Plan
One of the key ingredients to a green apartment is a smaller floor plan. Smaller apartments take up less space, a much-needed commodity with today’s rapidly growing population. A smaller apartment is also much easier to heat and cool than spaces with larger floor plans and high ceilings. If you want to go for the extreme, you can even seek out one of the newest trends in green living: the micro-apartment. These tiny spaces are an interior design challenge, but they’re the top choice when it comes to eco-friendly, affordable spaces. If you’re a single college student or young professional, a smaller floor plan should be incredibly compatible for your lifestyle. And sharing a larger space with a few roommates will do the trick, too!
Assuring that your apartment is equipped with quality insulation (or any kind of insulation at all) is essential. One of the top problems facing the our world today is humankind’s excessive energy consumption. Heating and cooling homes is a large part of this problem. It uses up more energy than you might think! If your insulation is up-to-date, this will lower that amount of energy used on keeping your home livable. This will also result in a lower electricity or oil bill (hooray!) Having efficient insulation is essential if you’re living in an area that commonly experiences extreme temperatures.
Choosing a place with a programmable thermostat can also help you cut your energy consumption when it comes to heating and cooling your home. These “smart stats” can be programmed to turn down the heat or air conditions at certain times of the day. Some of these computerized thermostats are pretty sophisticated, so ask your landlord if there is an instruction manual laying around or if they could show you the ropes. Be sure to use the least amount of energy when it’s unneeded, such as when you’re sleeping or away from the house. Never forget the power of a good blanket, either!
Water Saving Fixtures
During the first apartment walk through with your potential landlord, be sure to ask if they have installed any water saving fixtures in the apartment, such as low flow shower heads and faucets. Also ask how old the fixtures are and how recently they’ve been replaced. Even if you decide to get a place without green fixtures, be on the lookout for any leaks. As soon as you find one, call you landlord and have them repair it immediately. Leaving leaks untreated is not only a waste of water, but also terrible for the structural integrity of your bathroom floor.
Sustainable Building Materials
Those wood floors may look beautiful and the stone fireplace is practically the star of the apartment, but what are they made out of? Make sure those gorgeous wood floors didn’t come from old growth trees. Contemplate whether stone fireplaces and countertops fit into your sustainability agenda. Knowing what materials your apartment are and where they come from is helpful for finding a truly green space. Builders have plenty of options when it comes to sustainable materials nowadays, including bricks made of condensed wool and insulation made of recycled paper. Ask if the building materials came from local sources. Using sustainable building materials can really make a difference in the long run.
Yes, even landscaping can come into play when searching for an eco-friendly apartment. If the building has a little garden area, ask if they utilize native plants that are already adapted to your region and will benefit the local ecosystem. Search for any shady deciduous trees nearby that might provide relief from the sun during the summer. Nearby evergreens can take the brunt of winter winds, potentially lowering heating costs. Also, be sure to ask about what techniques are used to maintain the landscape. If they use artificial means, suggest the use of organic pesticides and fertilizers.
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