Truly green apartments such as leedon green— those packaged with sustainable energy sources, extreme energy-efficiency, and community gardens– are as scarce as they are expensive. Every time I’ve looked for an apartment, I’ve made sustainability a top priority. However, it’s hard to find a green apartment on a budget. If you’re looking for an environmentally friendly apartment but can’t afford to go all-out, here are some simple tips to help you find what you need.
- Look for an apartment close to conveniences. It’s easy to forget just how much proximity affects the ecological impact of your housing. A very greenhouse far from your job, your kids’ school, or the grocery store might end up being one of the least sustainable options because of the necessity of driving these long distances. Choose an apartment that is as close as possible to your workplace. Direct, walking-distance proximity to a grocery store, pharmacy, or corner store might also save you hundreds of gallons of gas– and thousands of dollars– over the course of your lease.
- Seek energy efficiency. Apartments vary tremendously in their energy efficiency. Some have virtually no insulation or have large windows that leak massive amounts of warmed or cooled air. Before moving into a new apartment, find out how green it really is by asking current residents– not the leasing agents– how the power bills run at the apartment complex. Look for an apartment with energy bills at least 10% lower than the average for your area. You’ll save money and help to minimize your ecological footprint.
- Find out about recycling. How easy will it be to recycle at the apartment complex in question? Some affordable apartments offer on-site recycling drop-off. Others might be in conveniently close proximity to city or county drop-off points. Look for an apartment that won’t break your budget but also provides an opportunity for recycling that doesn’t entail long weekly trips to a drop-off point. If nothing is available close by, accept the greenest affordable option and then petition the complex to provide drop-off sites for recyclables.
- Take a look (or a sniff) at the pool. Ask about pool maintenance at each affordable apartment in your area. Some budget apartments offer saltwater swimming pools, which don’t include the chlorine or other harsh chemicals involved in standard pool maintenance. Others use relatively low-chlorine solutions designed to minimize the health and environmental hazards associated with conventional pools. If possible, select an apartment with a saltwater pool that fits your family’s budget.
5. Look for shared resources. Apartments with many shared resources are among the greenest options and tend to be affordable in that they reduce your overall cost of living. If you find an affordable apartment that offers a clubhouse and fitness center, for example, you may be saved many of the expenses and transportation associated with a gym membership. The same is true for other amenities such as playgrounds. Look for an apartment that holds many resources in common between tenants, and you’ll find a reduction in both ecological impact and financial sacrifice.
Green apartments aren’t just an option for those who can afford elaborate, sustainable homes. By taking a second look at just a few key factors, you can help to reduce your impact on the planet without having to break the bank.