It probably didn’t show up on your electronic calendar, but Earth Hour is coming up again. In an act of solidarity, the whole world is invited to turn off their lights for one hour on March 19. The purpose: to recognize and minimize the effects of climate change. Chances are you’ll be joining in, and you may choose to up the ante by not just switching off your lights, but by turning off and unplugging all your electrical devices too.
While many urbanites participate in Earth Hour annually, they often don’t carry that attitude of eco-awareness throughout the rest of the year. It’s understandable: we’re all so dependent on modern conveniences that the thought of giving it all up seems daunting. The thing is, you don’t have to go off the grid. Through eco-efficient condo design and other earth-smart choices, urban dwellers can live comfortably while minimizing their negative impact on the planet.
Recognize the Need for Breathing Room
You may have noticed that compared to heavily populated cities, provinces are generally much cooler. This is because cities are literal hotspots: the heavy use of concrete, asphalt, and other heat-absorbing materials in city construction, along with emissions from vehicles result in unnaturally high heat, even well into the night. This “urban heat island” effect makes people dependent on air-conditioning, which represents a major part of our energy load.
To address this problem, developers around the world have started to adopt green design principles in their architecture by including solar panels, garden rooftops, and wind towers in their urban design. On the local front, DMCI Homes incorporated Lumiventt Technology in several of their condominium developments, letting natural air flow freely throughout buildings. A bonus benefit: the increased exposure to natural light gives the condos a more open, relaxed feel.
Throw Away the “Throwaway” Mentality
It has been said over and over that charity begins at home. When it comes to reducing our negative impact on the environment, the same sentiment applies. For example, have you thought about how much your household depends on disposable packaging? Where does it all go? Most probably into a landfill, or worse, into the ocean.
Take simple measures to reduce your dependence on disposables. Become allergic to plastic. Try using canvas bags for your groceries or buying water in large containers and just drinking from glasses instead of small disposable bottles. To reduce your aluminum addiction, consider going cold turkey and giving up soda and beer for a few months (your body thank you for that, too). Aside from these, there are many ways for condo dwellers to recycle: reuse old bottles and jars, use old cartons as plant holders, and segregate your waste so that recyclables are easier to collect. Simple habits can be very powerful, and the more you do these, the more you’ll see the value of sustainable condo living.
Wage War against Water Wastage
Grade school science tells us that water is a renewable resource. However, that’s only true assuming that we consume water at a sustainable rate, and that all our water resources remain usable. In reality, the human population is steadily increasing, and the staggering amount of pollution that we generate has tainted a lot of the water reserves.
Treat water like a resource you should ration reasonably. When brushing your teeth, don’t leave the faucet running. Try to get low-flow shower heads or faucets installed in your bathroom (talk to your condo admin to learn what you need to get this done). Consider using water from the bath or shower to water your plants. Every effort to help reduce your water use will be beneficial in the long run.
Clear the Air with Greenery
We already know how air pollution contributes to urban heat problems: hot emissions make the environment hotter, and the heat-absorbing materials cities are made out of exacerbate the issue. Consider the fact that carbon emissions persist in the atmosphere for thousands of years and you should get an idea why reducing our carbon footprint is a top priority.
One step towards that is to incorporate more green areas into living spaces: plants can take in the carbon dioxide spewed out by vehicles and process it into healthy oxygen. More urban residents are clamoring for developers to include green spaces in their designs. It’s not unusual to see living walls and lush garden rooftops in malls and high-rises. In the case of DMCI, leasing homes in developments that have tree-dotted common areas is par for the course. The flora in those condo complexes reinforces a resort-style theme, making it more pleasant for residents. Even in their own units, condo owners can add a few house plants here and there, adding a much-needed splash of life.
Don’t Burn Out the Planet
Another way to reduce your carbon footprint is to simply reduce your energy use. Carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are produced not just by vehicles, but by coal-powered electric plants as well. Residents in other countries have the option to choose a green power provider for their electricity, but while that option is not yet available in the Philippines, we have to lessen our emissions by dialing down our consumption.
Use energy-efficient CFLs for your condo lighting instead of old-fashioned incandescent bulbs. Turn off lights when you don’t need them, and do the same for any appliance that isn’t in use. Choosing a condo that is close to your place of work, your kids’ school, and stores will also help as you’ll burn less gas. If you’re fairly active and in a good mood, you can even bike or jog to where you need to go.
As you can see, it doesn’t take a totally eco-mentalist mindset to be environmentally conscious. Maybe buying all-organic products, giving up driving, or swearing off synthetic fabrics is too much of a commitment for you, but that’s okay. You just need to be aware of the impact urban living has on the planet and go for solutions that don’t compromise your comfort. Going green in a condo space may be a small step towards saving the world, but when it comes to minimizing our environmental footprint, every step counts.