CRB Program Blog

Small Changes for High Impact: How To ‘Green Up’ Your Rental Home

Posted by Ted Whitehead on Thu, Jun 09, 2011

Property managers and developers are going to many lengths to incorporate sustainable practices in the construction of residential buildings. Pure water, air quality, and sustainable building materials are all important initiatives in the construction and maintenance of buildings.

Property management companies like O’Shanter Property Management are in the forefront with their commitment to supporting a sustainable environment. Designated as ‘Energy Innovators’ by Natural Resources Canada, O’Shanter has implemented significant ‘green’ programs in all of their rental buildings resulting in a decrease in the use of electricity by 15%, reduction of water consumption by 43%, and the use of gas decreased by 45%. Property managers, Capreit, are winners of the 2010 Environmental Excellence Award by the Federation of Rental-Housing Providers of Ontario for their commitment to sustainable leadership in their residential rental buildings. Such advances from property management companies are essential in creating a sustainable building in which to live. But what actions can tenants take to assure a sustainable living environment? Asking these questions and making a change in our homes can make all the difference in our everyday health, vitality, and peace of mind.

How can I design my rental home and respect the environment?

Paint, the renters best design tool. Adding a fresh coat of paint to the walls is the easiest solution to customize your rental apartment. Aesthetically pleasing, yes, however paint does not create a physically fresh environment. Regular paints contains volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) that contain unstable carbon molecules that easily vaporize into the air. Interior environments contain 10 times the amount of VOC pollution than outdoors and continue seeping into our homes for several years. Enter a demand for low or non-VOC paint which is readily available at your home building store. Look for Green Seal paints which are forbidden from using a long list of toxic chemical compounds including carcinogens, reproductive toxins, hazardous air pollutants, heavy metals and formaldehyde-donors to name just a few. Low or non-VOC paints, such as in products created by AzkoNobel, are the easiest way to maintain clean air inside your home.

Off-gassing of toxins can also come from fabrics, flooring and other interior surfaces. Since tenants rarely have control of the materials used in their rental apartments, introduce houseplants as a natural remedy to combat our everyday chemical intake. Studies show one houseplant can be used for 100 square feet of floor space with average ceiling heights of 8 to 9 feet. Plants from such as the areca palm, reed palm, Boston fern, English ivy, weeping fig and rubber plant are effective in cleansing the air and balancing humidity.

And finally, water. Changing your shower head in your apartment to a purifying, water-saving version is an easy way to cut water use and have your showers actually get you clean! Water-saving shower heads are similar to the regular kind but have built-in flow restricts so less water flows through tinier openings. Some units have a built-in pulsar feature that will increase the actual water pressure through the head if more water pressure is needed. As for water-purification, adding a filter to your shower head will remove chlorine, fluoride, lime, calcium and other common irritants. As a result, water flow will be more even without calcium and lime build up in your shower head. And when chlorine is heated it becomes a gas which upon breathing in, kills lung tissue and can cause asthma, and other breathing problems. By making the small change of a purifying system in your shower, you’ll have the true experience of being clean!

With so many options to choose sustainable products and practices, tenants now have a chance at ‘greening up’ their rental home. The result: the security of an apartment to live and breathe freely.