Talk of “green” homes and buildings these days often evokes images of roof gardens, solar panels, and even wind turbines humming in the background. For most co-ops and condos however, “going green” comes incrementally, in much smaller measures.
Starting with simple things like turning off lights or phasing out incandescent bulbs, and moving to major undertakings such as investing in solar energy, individual owners and boards can take any number of steps on the road to a more environmentally conscious lifestyle—and pocket significant savings along the way.
Pre-war buildings, townhouses, and even brand-new condos all present opportunities for green improvements that can lead to increased comfort and continuing cost savings—it’s just a matter of finding the shade of green that best fits your building’s means and motivation.
Taking the First Steps
Reining in electric bills—and saving energy—in your building can start with installing compact fluorescent bulbs. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, if every household in the United States replaced just one regular incandescent light bulb with a compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulb, it would prevent 90 billion pounds of greenhouse gas emissions from power plants. That’s the equivalent of taking 7.5 million cars off the road, and over the life of the bulb, saves $30 in electricity costs. Count up all the bulbs in your building, and all those $30 add up quickly.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) suggests starting by placing the CFL bulbs in fixtures that are used frequently and left on for long periods of time, so beyond individual units, boards and managers may consider them a good choice for common areas like hallways, and community rooms.