It’s not easy being green — but it’s well worth it. With each passing year and continually rising CO2 levels, just about every industry is looking for ways to green it up and cut back on emissions. And that includes the residential construction industry, especially for multifamily dwellings. To help renters, we at ABODO apartments try to stay on top of these housing trends, and we’ve found that many apartment complexes already have a leg-up on eco-friendliness compared with single-family homes.
Households in apartment buildings with more than five units use about half the energy of other types of homes, the U.S. Energy Information Administration found. And between 1980 and 2009, those five-plus-unit buildings saw their per-household energy use for space heating drop by 48%. Considering the amount of outdated infrastructure involved, that is a remarkable drop in energy usage.
For newer constructions, the savings are even greater and more expansive.
For buildings certified with LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, through the U.S. Green Buildings Council, The savings starts with the design. From concept to construction to maintenance.
- These buildings are built to save energy.
- Save water
- Use sustainable materials
- Limit harmful gas emissions by 38%.
According to the USGBC, LEED-certified buildings are expected to save up to $1.2 billion in energy costs between 2012 and 2018.
But LEED isn’t the only “green” building benchmark. There is also the Green Globes certification, which provides guidance throughout the development process and regular operation for sustainability through water and energy conservation as well as recycling efforts. BREEAM is yet another organization offering certification for meeting technical standards for sustainability. These certifications offer a stamp of approval from a third-party to add credence to any building’s “green” claims. But not all buildings will choose to go through an expensive certification process. Some might instead choose to track their progress and goals with regular building benchmarking.
Emissions, and energy and water use are great indicators of whether an apartment building has sustainability in mind, but there is also an important factor surrounding every complex: the landscaping. It’s a more subtle feature, but sustainable landscaping is becoming more crucial as city developments spread. Paved parking lots and broad rooftops lead to stormwater runoff — instead of rainwater soaking into the ground, it runs through the streets and across pavement to find a body of water to join, increasing erosion, flooding, and pollution along the way. For example, a parking lot that includes grassy areas, foliage-filled ditches, and retention ponds (or dry detention areas) are all signs of thoughtful, sustainable landscaping.