Going Green? Four Steps to Finding a Sustainable Apartment

Apartment dwellers have less control over the structure and fixtures in their residences than home owners, even if

they are able to exercise the same personal and lifestyle choices, such as recycling, reducing water usage and reusing things whenever possible. However, there are an increasing number of apartment buildings and complexes being built or remodeled with green features and sustainability in mind. If you are hunting for a new green apartment, here are some things to look for:

Is the community a sustainable one?

  • How does it rank for pollution? Is it walkable, with decent sidewalks and safe neighborhoods?
  • Is there recycling service provided as well as regular trash pickup, or are there at least easily-accessible recycling centers?
  • Is it bicycle-friendly with bike lanes and bike racks?
  • Are needed services nearby, such as grocery and drug stores, schools, professional offices such as dentists and
    energy efficient home

    Photo by Hammer and Hand

    doctors, hospitals and community centers?

  • Is there public transportation, and is it affordable and reliable?
  • What about community gardens, farmer’s markets, and parks and other green spaces?

Is the apartment building designed to be green?

  • Is it green certified or does it meet the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards for certification?
  • Does it incorporate such advances as solar energy, high-efficiency heating and cooling and energy-efficient construction materials?
  • Is the paint and floor covering low- or no-voc?
  • If it is an older building, has it been updated for energy efficiency and elimination of toxic materials such as

    Solar Ventilator

    lead-based paint and asbestos?

Are the apartment units themselves designed to be green?

  • Are there decks or patios for each unit so the residents can enjoy fresh air, grow plants, and have a place for a compost bin?
  • Is there weatherstripping around windows and doors, is the caulking in good condition, do the windows and doors work well and seal well?
  • Are there energy-efficient appliances, low-flow toilets, low-flow shower heads, programmable thermostats, and CFL bulbs in the light fixtures? If there is not, is the management open to adding or allowing them?
  • Are the apartments configured for the best light and air flow, for adequate storage, so there is optimal comfort and livability in even the smallest square footage?

Is it practical for a green lifestyle?

  • If you use a bicycle regularly, is there safe and convenient storage for it, or can it be easily moved in and out of

    Image: bigjom / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

    the apartment?

  • Is it clean and free of pests, so that you can use a small compost bin in the kitchen without worry of infestation?
  • Is the plumbing modern enough so that using a low-flow shower head will not mean a no-flow shower head if someone else is running water in the apartment or even in the building?
  • If decorating is allowed, will the management okay the use of low- or no-voc paint?

There are many other considerations that can come into play depending upon your personal priorities, but this list makes a good place to start. Select the characteristics that mean the most to you when it comes to keeping it green.


Jessica Bosari writes about affordable apartments and housing for rent at AffordableHousingForRent.com. She hopes that someday, we can all find affordable rentals that are better for the environment.

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