More often than not, when boards or associations broach the issue of their buildings “going green,” images of bamboo flooring, hemp drapes, or solar panels on the roof suddenly spring to mind. The impression seems to be that in a condo, green upgrades are difficult and costly—if not impossible—to do.
Fortunately, the truth is that there are plenty of things co-op and condo boards and owners can do to reduce their community's environmental impact without vaporizing its bank account.
One Small Step for Green
According to the experts such as David Unger, CEO of New York-based U.S. Energy Group, green starts small. “When you really start looking at what it takes to go green, you recognize that it's all about cutting energy use. If I can use less oil, I'm going green by virtue of the fact that I'm not dependent on oil.”
Architect Kirsten Thoft agrees. “The cost of heating and cooling and the amount of energy consumed doing those things, either oil or natural gas or electricity are huge, and easily reducible. The most important things that you can do to any building aren't sexy, and you don't even see them—which is part of the reason people overlook them.” Those things however, are easily done.
Fundamentally, the key is to improve the energy efficiency and durability of a community’s property. Tightening up the building envelope need not cost an arm and a leg, and can actually yield a higher rate of return than solar panels or recycled countertops.