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Going Green Does Not Have To Cost Millions! Four Simple Ways To Make Your Apartment Community More Environmentally Friendly

by Daniel Herrera

Do you cringe when you hear the words "go green" because you assume that making your apartment community more eco-friendly would be a costly excursion? While some environmentally friendly upgrades, like solar panels or green roofs, do come with high price tags, you don't have to spend a fortune to green-up your apartment community. Making several small, low-cost changes, like the ones suggested below, allows you to work with a property management company to create a greener living space without going bankrupt.

Encourage electronics recycling by placing a collection bin in your community building or leasing office.

Most people are pretty good about recycling their day-to-day items, like paper products and soda bottles. However, a lot of electronic waste from computers, cell phones and other devices is still ending up in landfills. According to one source, only 10% of computers in the U.S. end up being recycled!

By placing a bin for recyclable electronics in your community building or leasing office, you're encouraging your residents to dispose of their old electronics the right way. Once a month or so, you can take the electronics in the bin to a recycling facility that handles e-waste. Most electronics stores will accept old items for recycling. Make sure you advertise the e-waste recycling bin well by sending your residents reminder emails, posting about it on social media, and posting signs about it through your community.

Plant more trees in areas where they will shade buildings.

Not only do trees release oxygen into the air and absorb carbon dioxide (a greenhouse gas), but they can also help reduce energy use when planted near your apartment buildings. Once the trees grow large enough, they will cast shade on the building, keeping it cooler in the summer so less air conditioning can be used.

For best results, plant trees between 10 and 20 feet from the west and east sides of the building, so you get some morning and afternoon shade. If you live in an area with cold winters, choose evergreen tree varieties, since they will keep their needles all winter and help keep chilly air off of the buildings, reducing heating costs.

Offer group transportation to a local farmer's market.

Buying locally grown food is better for the environment because foods grown in your area do not need to be shipped across the country in vehicles that produce polluting emissions. Also, less packaging is used on locally grown foods purchased at farmer's markets than on produce sold at grocery stores.

A great way to encourage your residents to purchase more locally grown foods is to provide transportation to and from a farmer's market once per week. You could contract with a local limo or taxi company to pick up interested residents and take them to and from the market. Everyone going in one vehicle, rather than driving separately, reduces fuel consumption.

Charge the residents a small fee for this service, or bundle it into the total cost of rent. Make sure all of your residents know about the option of going to the farmer's market. Include it in your advertisements when looking for new residents -- the option is bound to attract some environmentally conscious renters.

Switch to more eco-friendly cleaning products and paints.

When it comes time to buy new cleaning products to clean out apartments and common areas, make sure you buy eco-friendly, green products rather than conventional ones. You can even use a simple mixture of vinegar and water to clean most surfaces. If you hire out your cleaning services, only hire businesses that use "green" cleaning practices.

Also, choose low-VOC paints when it comes time to repaint an apartment. VOCs, or volatile organic compounds, are chemicals that are emitted from many conventional paints and plastics. They have been linked to an increased risk of some cancers and are bad for the environment in general. Low-VOC paints have become quite common and can now be found in most home improvement stores.

With the changes above, your apartment community will be operating in a much greener manner. Don't forget to mention your eco-friendly tactics when seeking new tenants. Many prospective tenants are specifically looking for communities that have taken the initiative to go green.