Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Making Condos More Sustainable

Making condo building greener must be the topmost priority of the developers and associations. Not just the condos in Manila area or in Makati, Alabang, Quezon City, but the condos in the entire country. While not all residents may welcome the idea due to certain compromises, introducing green initiatives is still plausible. Below are just some of the ways to make condos greener.

1) Provide adequate yard waste bins (or compost containers)

Given the fact that condo buildings do not generate much yard waste, but the association can still put yard waste containers where the residents can discard their compost including food scraps. Encourage the unit owners and renters to compost and recycle by providing them an informational sheet upon moving in.

2) Create gardening spaces

Condo units usually lack the space they need for gardens. Nonetheless, mini Zen gardens as table centerpieces will do. The condo association may also consider buying identical window boxes and seedlings for all the tenants. If this is not possible, consider transforming the rooftop into a garden.

3) Use non-toxic materials

During remodeling and repainting, buy and use non-toxic and low, or non-VOC (volatile organic compound) paints. These are the chemicals that paint release once applied. When replacing carpets, buy and use carpets that are free of formaldehyde. As much as possible, use reclaimed building materials available from eco-friendly stores.

4) Use non-toxic cleaning supplies and materials

If the condo association hires a cleaning service, make sure that they are using EPA registered products. They should not be using chlorine bleach and ammonia-based cleaners. Instead, inspect if they use cleaning products that don’t contain chlorine, alcohol, triclocarban and triclosan. The products must be petroleum-free, solvent-free, VOC-free and biodegradable.

5) Recycle old appliances and materials

If the building and tenants have old appliances, recycle them. If they still work, considering donating them to the local shelter or selling them and allocate the proceeds to buying new appliances and materials for the common areas.

6) Weather-proof doors and windows

If installing weatherproof doors and windows is not conceivable, the condo management can try weather-stripping the doors, windows and trunks. Weather-stripping means sealing the door and window openings and securing them from the elements. Weather-stripping doesn’t only keep out weather, but also increases interior comfort, reduces noise and lowers utility bills. After this, the next step should be insulating the walls, attics and crawlspaces.   

7) Install CFLs on entryways, hallways and other common areas

Compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) last up to 10x longer than the standard incandescent bulbs. CFLs also use 75% less energy which means lower electricity bills throughout their use. The condo association can further save through installing timers in less frequently used areas such as the laundry room. Light sensors can also be used for outdoor lighting. For the front walkways, the association may choose to install solar lights.

8) Use water wisely

There are many ways by which the building and tenants can consume water more efficient.

  • Equip kitchen and bathroom faucets with low-flow aerators
  • Mount low-flow shower heads
  • Replace toilets with low-flow toilets
  • Use Energy Star rated appliances on common areas
  • Fix water leaks quickly
  • Put native plants instead of ornamental plants
  • Use drip irrigation in the garden

For a more organized green transition, the association may form a green committee. The board can ensure smooth implementation of the projects. This also signals the commitment of the association to the initiatives and so more tenant buy-ins can be achieved. Make sure that whatever project the condo embarks all the tenants are well-informed, so they’d understand the motivation behind those projects and how they may benefit from such. Through this, buy-ins will be high and so will the tenant involvement and commitment.

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