By Condo Culture
Whether you’re searching for that booming downtown lifestyle or prefer to live in a quieter neighbourhood, you want to ensure you’ve picked a quality condo building. The majority of buyers in the market often focus on things like affordability, amenities, neighbourhoods, walk scores, floor plans, unit features, grocery stores, cafes and restaurants. But that’s not all. Increasingly over the past few years, there’s been a noticeable shift in the amount of emphasis placed on a building being “green”. More and more buyers are placing weight on eco-friendly features and finishes that will help them live responsibly. And while that brand new building with EV ready parking spots, low VOC paints, recycling programs and roof mounted solar panels may be the first things you think about, it may surprise you to know just how much condos contribute to a greener planet as part of the overall lifestyle they represent (dare we say “Culture”?).
1) Being Close to Everything - Condos Downtown (and Uptown, don’t worry Waterloo we didn’t forget about you) are located closer to many of the things we all use on a daily basis encouraging people to use other alternatives to get around rather than just jumping in the car. Public transportation and more time spent walking and biking to work and to the things you enjoy is not only healthier, it also cuts down on the amount of time you spend in the car and, as a result, the amount of energy we use. In fact, our neighbours to the south did a study and found those living in a suburban community typically use around three times more energy per year than someone living in a condo building near public transportation.*
2) Building Up. Not Out. - Just like the above, the more we build homes up vs. out, the less we all have to drive and commute to see each other and get to the things we like to do. But beyond energy used in commuting, reducing the amount of suburban sprawl also preserves our precious farmland and keeps the farms that feed us closer to the cities that need fed. Not only does this further reduce greenhouse gas emissions, it also ensures those fresh Ontario fruits and veggies we look forward to each year get to us while they’re still fresh and delicious. By reducing the distance the food has to travel, our food stays fresher, our farmers stay happier and our planet thanks us. The “Greenbelt” and “Places to Grow” legislation here in Ontario are all initiatives formed on the benefits of building up not out.
3) Energy Efficiency - Remember your grade school geometry class when you were being taught how many sides a cube has and later, how to measure the surface area of that cube? No? Neither do we. But we’re told a cube (or a house in this example) typically has 5 sides (Yes, smarty pants we’re aware it technically has 6. Think four walls and a roof. Work with us here). When you heat that cube, your energy can escape from all 5 sides, whereas condos typically only have 1 or 2 side exposed to the environment which means they have to work a lot less hard to reduce energy loss. In fact, any heat lost through your other walls just helps your neighbour and any heat lost through their space helps you. The point? On a basic level, fewer exterior walls results in less heat loss and that helps make condos more efficient to heat and cool than a typical house, saving you money and saving the environment.
4) Condos save trees? - Yep, that’s right. While it may not be something that comes top of mind, many of the houses build in our area are still built with wood, while many of the condos built are built with concrete. Fewer wood building materials that go into building a condo vs. the equivalent number of single detached homes mean fewer trees that need to be cut down to fulfill our need for housing. Not only that, while it’s true that a tree may sometimes need to be taken down to build a condo (we don’t love it either), it often pales in comparison with the number of trees that would need to be cut down to build the same number of homes in a new neighbourhood on the edge of town. So condos actually do save trees? You betcha.
5) Yard Maintenance - We’re all busy and even the simplest of yard work can sometimes feel like a chore. But remember this, every time you crank up the lawn mower or fertilize the garden, you’re using energy.
Fun facts: Did you know a new gas powered lawn mower produces as many VOC and nitrogen oxide emissions in one hour as 11 new cars do being driven for the same amount of time Or how about the amount of natural gas required to make 200 bags of lawn fertilizer would heat your home for a year?*
In a condo, not only do you save time not having to cut the lawn or tending to the garden, you also live greener as a result. So the next time you’re out on a patio instead of cutting the lawn, cheers to condo life and cheers to yourself for being a little extra green too.
Have a great (green) weekend everyone!
Sources: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency) University of Vermont
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