An apartments.com survey showed that 60% of renters said they specifically search for environmentally friendly apartments, and 25% of them are willing to pay more for those amenities. 17% said they wouldn't rent a non-green apartment. To EnviroCitizen.org the message is clear—eco-friendly apartments are growing in demand.
Drawn in by incentives designed to off-set the costs of green features such as low-emission building materials, air-monitoring systems and rainwater-irrigated rooftop gardens, apartment developers have introduced a product they feel responds to a demand among the growing health-conscious and environmentally aware customers on a budget. There is also evidence that suggests that green investments may pay off in the long run even sooner than ordinary homes. An environmental report released in 2003 suggests that financial investment in a green building can pay for itself 10 times over.
The location of your home can have a huge impact on your ability to live sustainably, so think hard about your lifestyle when you are looking for your next rental property. Are there good connections to public transit? Is it within walking distance to work or school? Are the roads safe for cycling? It might help you to talk with current residents to find out more, or just take some time to scope out the neighborhood by yourself. The more people who seek out greener communities, the more developers and local authorities will be motivated to create them. Visit walkscore.com to locate restaurants, parks, grocers and other businesses and amenities within walking distance of your possible future home.
One of the biggest obstacles to living green in a rental property is the feeling of powerlessness to make changes. It's important to remember that as a tenant you are a customer and you deserve decent service. A responsible landlord or landlady will usually listen to their tenants. Inform them if you feel any drafts, if there are any leaks or if insulation needs to be replaced. The owner might be particularly open to funding improvements if you show them some good facts on the return on their investment. If you’re able to offer your labor free, it will be a win-win situation for all concerned.
Planet Green offers these as a few tips to help with green renting:
- Those of us who rent often have to deal with a lack of space, meaning we end up looking for innovative ways to live small. Small Houses by Carles Broto is a good source of inspiration.
- North Carolina students set up a website to "kick gas through smarter living," including an online apartment finder with mass transit information included.
- Multi-functional appliances offer apartment dwellers an instant kitchen.
- Compact fluorescent lightbulbs are one of the easiest changes you can make in your home.
- The navy shower is a great way to save water, with no need for installing new equipment or technology.
- Transformer furniture offers a great opportunity for living large in small spaces.
- A three-in-one bed, desk and closet is yet another example of excellent transformer furniture.
- Storage is always at a premium for renters, so Freecycle can be a huge help in getting rid of the clutter.
- Composting isn’t just for those with a big backyard. Naturemill offers a compact, indoor composting unit.
- Look at a selection of affordable low-VOC paints.
All in all, EnviroCitizen.org has found that renting green in the US is becoming easier. The more we choose to do so, the more accessible it will become!