Whether the goal is to save the planet or just a few bucks, making and maintaining a green home is becoming a priority for more and more people. And while many are quick to point fingers at gas-guzzling automobiles as the main culprits behind global warming, the U.S. Energy Research and Development Administration says that residential buildings account for 21 percent of all carbon emissions in the United States. That makes housing almost as big a carbon contributor as transportation, which generates about 27 percent of the country’s harmful emissions.
But in the midst of an economic slowdown, building administrators are rightfully concerned with the cost of updating an older building to new green standards. Fortunately, the marketplace abounds with environmentally friendly products, all of which have led to competitive prices and a higher standard of performance. According to industry experts, co-op and condominium communities that adopt greener, more environmentally friendly products and policies can expect a strong return-on-investment, part of which may come from the increased appeal your sustainable building will have for prospective buyers.
The “green” movement is a loose and sometimes ill-defined conglomeration of initiatives intended to reduce consumers’ impact on the planet’s ecosystems, among them efforts to recycle, conserve water and reduce dependence on carbon-emitting fossil fuels. But it’s the latter that has received the most media attention of late because dependence on fossil fuels puts a strain not just on our planet but on the U.S. economy as well.
“With energy prices so high, the best economic stimulus government can offer is help to access energy-saving technologies, from better transit to green buildings,” says Andy Darrell, regional director for Environmental Defense Fund in New York. “A green building can cut energy costs in half—now that’s stimulus for our wallets and the planet.”
The first and most basic step board members can take toward reducing energy use is to switch the lighting in common areas from incandescent to compact fluorescent lighting. “The up-front cost is a little higher, but over the lifespan of those bulbs, they’re actually a lot cheaper,” says Todd Larson, media director of the green non-profit Co-op America.