Jacqueline Coombe is a freelance writer specialising in business development, marketing and career development content.
If you’re a building owner or manager, making your apartment complex more environmentally friendly can save you money and increase the value of your building. And if you’re a strata owner or tenant, greening your apartment can improve its liveability and make it a healthier environment for you and your family.
This article looks at some simple steps that both owners and occupiers can take to improve their communal living environments by making their apartment buildings cleaner and greener.
Owners and managers can make substantial improvements to their apartment buildings simply by adopting more sustainable practices. These can include;
- Reducing energy consumption – communal lifts are a good example of where energy is often wasted, as many run long past their useful lives. Modernising or upgrading them can provide big energy savings. Installing solar panels on roofs will also bring down your energy costs, as will replacing lighting in common areas with energy-efficient LED and CFL lighting.
- Reducing water consumption – using less water can add up to big savings, not only for the environment but for your hip pocket as well. Wastewater can be minimised by replacing old toilets with low-flush models and showerheads with low-flow alternatives. Greywater can be used on communal gardens, which can be planted with native plants requiring less water. Installing 5-star energy-rated washing machines in communal laundries will also mean less water is consumed.
- Reducing waste – minimising the amount of rubbish that goes into landfills will help to reduce your apartment building’s carbon footprint. Providing tenants with recycling and composting facilities and educating them on their use will help to avoid smelly, overfilled skip bins, which can be a common sight in apartment complexes.
- Reducing toxins – from carpet to paint, the environment in an apartment complex is full of toxic elements that can be harmful to the health of your residents. When renovating, choose timber or tiled floors over carpeting and use low-VOC paints to keep toxic chemicals to a minimum. You should also ensure that cleaners use non-toxic cleaning products when cleaning apartments or communal areas in your building.
Tenants and strata owners can improve their apartment living experience by making a few simple yet significant changes. These can include;
- Energy-efficient alternatives – switching out the lighting in your apartment to LEDs (light-emitting diodes) and CFLs (compact fluorescent lamps) will result in much lower energy use. A power strip will help to reduce vampire energy (appliances leech energy even when they are turned off at the wall). And switching to 5-star energy-rated appliances will help to lower your energy consumption costs (particularly your fridge, which is the most energy-hungry appliance in your apartment).
- Water-saving devices – installing aerator taps, dual flush toilets and low-flow showerheads can all reduce water consumption. Also be sure to have any dripping taps or water leaks repaired as soon as they become apparent, as they can add up to a lot of wasted money in a short space of time. Using a dishwasher instead of washing dishes by hand will also help to reduce the amount of water you consume.
- Air quality improvements – having potted plants in your apartment will enhance the visual impact and improve air quality by helping to filter out the VOCs (volatile organic compounds) released by most synthetic products (i.e. synthetic furnishings such as sofas, bedding, area rugs, etc). Installing a balcony, window box, or vertical garden can also contribute to better air quality, as well as providing a food source if you were to plant veggies or herbs. You should also regularly ventilate your apartment (even in winter) to let fresh air circulate and allow toxins to escape.
- Temperature regulation – window treatments such as curtains can help to take the strain off your heating and cooling costs by providing shade from the sun in summer and preventing heat from escaping during winter. Using draft excluders and caulking or sealing window cracks and air leaks will also provide better insulation and help to reduce heat loss.
The quarter-acre suburban block is becoming a thing of the past, with Australians increasingly choosing to live closer together and share more common spaces. This means that finding ways to increase sustainability and liveability in an apartment environment has never been more important.
One way to measure and improve your building’s energy and water efficiency is by obtaining a NABERS for Apartment Buildings rating. NABERS stands for National Australian Built Environment Rating System and it is the equivalent of the star rating system used for appliances, except for buildings instead.
The system rates the energy and water efficiency of an apartment building’s common property areas on a scale of one to six with the aim of;
- Establishing the building’s true operational value
- Identifying potential improvements that can be made
- Unlocking potential savings and
- Increasing the building’s overall market value.
It can also help you to identify and rectify any incorrect billing, reduce your energy and water costs, reduce energy and water wastage and improve your building’s green credentials, ultimately attracting more investors and tenants.
Taking steps to make your apartment building greener will not only reduce its impact on the environment but will also save you money and increase your building’s marketability and value. It will also make it a more pleasant environment to live in and encourage more long-term residents who will care about and look after the property.
It’s a win-win that every building and apartment owner should be considering because, with a little green intuition and foresight, even the most environmentally unfriendly apartment complex can be transformed from an unprofitable eyesore into an increasingly valuable asset.
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.
© 2021 jacquicoombe