Two Birds, One Green Stone
Once in a (VERY) great while, the interests of activists and businesspeople align. One such miraculous alignment has emerged recently in the apartment industry: increasing energy efficiency of buildings, to the mutual benefit of the planet and whoever is paying the electric bills.
With many ways for buildings to reduce their energy consumption, landlords have options—everything from changing their light bulbs to energy-saving CFLs, to becoming LEED certified. LEED certification (or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) verifies that a building has high standards in areas such as energy and water consumption, low carbon emissions, and high environmental quality indoors. Although LEED has only been around for a decade, 10,000 properties in the commercial sector have already been certified.
In many cases, apartment building owners have stepped up their environmental game at the request of their tenants. Student activism especially can drive change in the industry. Given that landlords are already sniffing around for ways to measure and reduce energy consumption—and costs along with it—interest from tenants, especially enthusiastic student tenants, can be the straw that breaks the camel’s wasteful back.
And in some cases, the change has been big: apartments in Harlem have been renovated with greener standards, and even the Empire State Building has achieved LEED Gold status. That particular retrofit cost $550 million, and will save $4.4 million per year by cutting energy consumption 38 percent. Some state governments are also responding to increased popularity of LEED buildings: five of them have LEED certification for at least 10 percent of their office space.
Energy efficiency isn’t the only way the apartment industry is going green. Other efforts include using sustainable building materials and implementing building-wide recycling programs. Stay tuned for more MyNewPlace blog articles on how apartment living is becoming earth-friendly!