Going green doesn’t have anything to do with choosing a natural paint color for your kitchen, or planting a new bed of romaine lettuce in your community garden. But the phrase can have many different meanings and can be done across a broad spectrum. Turning off lights in rooms you’re not occupying is a small green move; installing a gigantic wind turbine in your backyard is a bigger one. Different communities throughout Florida place green practices and programming at different positions on their lists of priorities—and the steps they take depend on funding, community interest, feasibility and other factors.
A Greener State of Mind
For most Florida residents, the push to go green starts with the desire to do the right thing for the environment and for their health. Using environmentally-friendly materials may improve the air quality within your home, because the chemicals used in sources such as pressed wood have been linked with serious diseases including cancer and asthma.
And even if that doesn't compel you, “You should go green because of the savings for the people who are living in the building and for the people who own the building,” says Suzanne Cook, executive director of the Florida Green Building Coalition (FGBC), which develops and administers green building standards for the state.
By choosing energy-efficient appliances and light bulbs, owners can save a lot of money on operating costs. Add to that durable materials that reduce the need to make repairs and upgrades as frequently, and the savings will start to add up quickly. “When you’re talking about energy efficiency, technology is one of the main factors that can reduce energy consumption,” Cook says.
Small, Green Steps
Many condo owners start by doing simple tweaks, such as updating their light bulbs and plumbing fixtures, says Jennifer Easton, communications associate for the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). Homeowners can also use recycled materials to make their home more green, such as using salvaged wood when building a porch, setting up a composting operation or building a rain garden.