Green Apartment & Condo Living

Todd L. Sack MD, FACP

Just because you live in an apartment or condominium doesn’t mean you cannot be part of the “green living” movement. The benefits are significant for your personal finances, your happiness, and the health of your community. This short blog is about adding environmental sustainability to your apartment or condo. Many of these ideas are from Ben Creamer of the Downtown Apartment Company in Chicago, Illinois, USA.

By its nature, apartment living is eco-friendlier than other lifestyles. Most apartments use less electricity than stand-alone homes because apartments are smaller and better insulated. Condominiums and apartments tend to be clustered around other amenities so that people can walk or take public transportation rather than drive a car to school, work, shops and entertainment. Using our legs to get about, hopping on a bus, or jumping onto a subway means healthy exercise and less harmful air pollution from the burning of fossil fuels.

Creamer says, “reducing your ecological footprint and having a greater positive impact on the world around you can be a matter of making a few minor changes.”

Let’s start with energy use. Most apartments and condos draw energy from the local utility which burns fossil fuels to make electricity. This means air pollution that causes lung disease and cancer, plus greenhouse gases that are changing the climate. It is even worse if your building must burn fuel oil, diesel or coal to operate a boiler for heat in the winter. Please set your thermostat to 68 degrees F. (20 degrees C.) or lower in winter, and 72 degrees F. (23 degrees C.) or higher in summer.

Switch your light bulbs to highly efficient LED (Low Emitting Diode) bulbs, use desk lamps instead of ceiling lights, always turn off lights when you leave a room, and unplug appliances that you are not using, especially those cell phones once they are charged. And remember to turn off the television and game console!

Green-cleaning means choosing low-toxicity chemicals and using those chemicals safely. Check out our blog: .

Recycle whatever your community recycling system allows. If your building isn’t recycling its wastes, ask your manager to set up a recycling program. While you are at it, ask her to consider putting solar panels on the roof (often a big money-maker for the landlord), to install electric car chargers in the garage, and to adopt green cleaning for the building. You can send her the link to this blog to share with other tenants.

Try decorating with recycled furniture from estate sales or resale shops. This lowers your costs, reduces landfill waste, and avoids the greenhouse gases created from the cutting of trees, manufacturing, and transportation needed for new goods.

There are lots of online sources. One is Another is a cool one-pager by Ben Creamer of the Downtown Apartment Company: . These make “green” apartment and condo living even easier!

Todd L Sack MD is Editor for , a free environmental sustainability service that is used by hundreds of healthcare offices in 51 countries.

Ben Creamer co-founded Downtown Apartment Company (DAC), a provider of Chicago rental apartments in Chicago’s Loop and surrounding neighborhoods.

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