Many newly constructed multi-unit structures in south Florida are incorporating green specific elements into the building design which over the long run improves quality of life and economic savings for residents while reducing the carbon footprint of the building. In my opinion, builders who choose to construct green-efficient condos and townhomes by using environmentally safe and/or recycled products deserve buyer support.
I encourage residents occupying older, non-green communities to consider becoming eco-conscious by converting to green-based products when building maintenance and renovations arise. This could be a decision adopted by the condo association for a step-by-step plan. Changes could be as simple as replacing light bulbs with eco-friendly lighting (especially when living ocean-side to protect nesting wildlife from glaring lights), to replacing old refrigerators, washers/dryers and dishwashers with energy saving appliances. Researching green paints with less toxicity, ensuring efficient air handlers for optimum air quality and using recycled, eco-friendly materials for building renovations or private unit maintenance not only enhance the value of the premises but improves quality of life.
An article in the Sun Sentinel a while back suggested home-owner associations request energy audits from their power companies to discover where the highest energy uses occur in the building and target those areas for eco-friendly change. Energy audits also help to calculate the payback rate of money saved by replacing the energy sappers with energy efficiency.
Landscaping can also cause a huge drain on resources and energy. Associations can research indigenous vegetation to reduce watering needs and replace blacktop and asphalt with paving that permits water permeability. Here are a few websites offering incentives and ways to go green:
Database of Incentives for Florida renewables: www.dsireusa.org/incentives/index.cfm?State=FL
How to get started being Green: www.myfloridagreenbuilding.info/
Florida Solar Energy Center: www.fsec.ucf.edu/
Changing to green can be easy. Simply by consciously considering eco-friendly products when building updates are needed or renovating your own space will put the change in motion. If your association is not green conscious now, take the step. Make the suggestion. Your concern will be a win-win situation to make your lives, and those of your neighbors, healthier and richer in many ways, including in improving the value of your real estate investments.