Many of the green initiatives are focused on owners rather than renters. Buying solar panels can make sense to add to your home, and energy star appliances ARE a great idea, but places come with refrigerators, water heaters, windows, washer/dryers etc when you rent. And in alot of apartments there isn’t much incentive to take the time and money to make these big green efficiency improvements. Landlords might get a little cranky if you start remodeling and replacing things, (sure!) but there is alot you can do.
You can ask! Yes, ask for a clothesline, or double paned windows or having broken single paned windows replaced with double paned. Maybe a patch of unused land can be converted to tomatoes and basil. Containers on the roof? Saving rain water in barrels? Who knows? Go ahead and ask, be your own best advocate. And many rental agencies are responding. Green, saves them money too.
You may not have your own plot of land, but investigate to see if there are community gardens near you, or you can go to a you-pick garden, or try container gardening. There are option, be curious, explore.
In Palo Alto, here is what they do:
The Palo Alto Housing Corporation (PAHC) has taken on that responsibility. The largest low-income housing organization in Palo Alto, PAHC has implemented many green practices and components throughout their complexes.
Georgina Mascarenhas, PAHC director of property management, said that most units have weatherstripping on doors and windows to save on heating and cooling costs, low-flow toilets to decrease water bills and drought-resistant landscaping. All laundry machines are EnergyStar-rated. PAHC is also looking into solar power and Mascarenhas said that the Alma Street location is ideal for harnessing energy from the sun’s rays.
PAHC also signed a new contract with Quick Light Recycling from Brisbane, which conducted recycling presentations, provided larger communal recycle bins and gave personal recycle bins to residents.
“I think (residents) do want to be green.” Mascarenhas said. “For the most part, it is all about education.”
Mascarenhas said the main green thing PAHC residents can do right now is recycle. She also said that PAHC provides a written conservation plan with suggestions on energy-saving methods, such as setting the thermostat to automatic mode.
“Nobody wanted to take time to sort through the recycling before,” she said. “But, now that it is more convenient, more residents are doing it.”