Looking to save the planet—or just a few bucks—more and more New Yorkers are looking to “green” their lifestyles. Environmental watchdogs are quick to point fingers at gas guzzling automobiles as prime contributors to climate change, but according to the U.S. Energy Research and Development Administration, residential buildings account for 21 percent of all carbon emissions in the United States. That makes housing almost as big a culprit as transportation, which surprisingly generates only about 27 percent of the country’s harmful emissions.
But in the midst of a so-called economic “slowdown,” many are rightfully concerned with the overhead costs 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 can expect a strong ROI on their greening investments, part of which will come from the new appeal your sustainable building will have to potential tenants.
The “green” movement is a loose and sometimes vaguely defined conglomeration of initiatives intended to reduce humans’ impact on the environment and develop sustainable approaches to energy production and consumption. Among them are efforts to recycle, conserve water, and reduce dependence on carbon-emitting fossil fuels. But it’s the last of those goals that has received the most media attention of late, and rightfully so. Dependence on fossil fuels puts a strain not just on our planet but on the U.S. economy as well. As fuel prices skyrocket, the most effective way to help cut costs is to decrease demand by making your building more energy-efficient.
According to Todd Larsen of the green non-profit Co-op America, based in Washington D.C., 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 or CFLs.
“The upfront cost is a little higher,” he says, “but over the lifespan of those bulbs, they’re actually a lot cheaper.”