Earth-Inspired Living: Apartments That Help Our Environment


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Living an environmentally-conscious lifestyle still carries a stigma of sacrifice. Take these common excuses for not making changes in our daily habits:

  • “There’s no way I could ever give up meat – I need the protein.”
  • “I need my truck to haul things.”
  • “I’d compost, but I don’t want to attract scavenger animals to my yard.”

Whatever our reasons for not adopting eco-friendly practices into our regular routine, there’s likely a modern-day fix. Order a Reuben sandwich with tempeh instead of corned beef. Trade in your 15-mpg beast for a hybrid Yukon that hauls the same load. You can even buy a ready-made, raccoon-proof compost container. Across the spectrum, technology and progress have found solutions to appease our green-mindedness.

It’s our homes that leave behind the largest eco-footprint. City dwellers have a green advantage over suburbanites, with a smaller impact on the land due to consolidating. But for the earth-minded apartment renter, it can be frustrating knowing that your old windowsills are leaking climate-treated air, or watching piles of plastics tossed into the garbage when a building or city hasn’t coordinated a recycling program.

Fortunately, the green movement no longer demands daily sacrifice (although riding your bike to work, if you call that a sacrifice, is still better for the earth than a hybrid Yukon). In fact, these days, ‘green’ may even be synonymous with ‘luxury.’ Nowhere is this more obvious than in the growing number of eco-friendly apartment buildings around the country, where an earth-conscious approach goes right in hand with jacuzzi jets in the tub and the views from wall-size windows.

Solera in Denver

Here are a few of the most notable recent projects:

  1. Solera – Denver, Colorado

    Attention to the community details sets this Gold LEED-certified complex apart from competitors. Tops among the rarities? An in-house bicycle repair workshop. The building also includes single stream (no sorting) recycling facilities on each floor and a rooftop observation deck equipped with a solar trellis providing power to the building. That’s not to mention the community kitchen and Mac bar, with shared computers, free tea and coffee, and a pool table and Wii. It’s all the advantages of living alone and having roommates in one place, and everyone’s on the same page when it comes to respecting the planet.

  2. Alta at K Station – Chicago, Illinois
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  1. It is amazing how modern times can call upon new and modern ideas for everyone to go refreshingly green without it feeling like we are giving up on too much.

    I think the sad part is that not all councils seem to be educated in what can really be achieved. Here in the UK where I live (North West) I have yet to see these amazing LEED certified buildings go up. It seems that our council hasn’t got a clue what they are.????
    Maybe the govts need to implement mass retraining programs for the leaders/councils in each town. Then we might stand a chance and be proud of our bew builds instead of cringing at the very sight of them going up.

    Solar energy and bike repair shops are a big wow! But my favorite of all are the green roofs and garden rooftops 🙂

  2. All these LEED buildings are wonderful, but I wonder what the rest of us can do, wh live in rental houses and apartments that are barely maintained to legal code. What choices are there when the landlord puts in cheap, standard toilets instead of low-flow, for example?

  3. It’s good to know that progress is being made and that when I look for an apartment I will have more and more eco-friendly options available. While there may not be any in my price range now, I trust that that will change in time.

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