Embracing Green Living in Toronto Homes and Condos
There is a rising awareness and concern about our planet and how environmental issues affect every aspect of our lives. How and where we work, play, and even where we live all have an impact on the planet, and today people, from children to seniors are increasingly interested in how they can make a difference.
Many of today's homeowners are looking at retrofitting their houses to increase efficiency and help reduce their energy costs as well. Much of the older Toronto housing stock is currently energy-inefficient, with little or no insulation, older windows, and drafty attics and basements. Taking such steps to improve these features that will help keep the home operating costs down and also improve the home comfort are becoming more important to Sellers who want to know what energy and cost-saving features Buyers will value, and which upgrades could improve resale marketability.
More efficient fixtures, appliances, plumbing, solar panels, newer windows, and insulation could help owners save on utility costs as well as adding to the properties' value. Thousands of Canadian homes are paying extra money to support green and renewable energy through Bullfrog electricity.
Many of us have already started taking steps to change our personal impact on the planet, from changing our light bulbs, buying low-flow shower heads, and turning down our thermostat when we're not home. Aside from purchasing organic items, we need to make different choices on a day-to-day basis within our homes and our lives. We can even make those changes throughout our homes starting with how we clean them!
Do you remember growing up with your family home being clean, but not as sterilized as today? More people are now in the habit of spritzing food & animal odours away, tossing mops away and trying to keep their families safe from all germs. More chemicals that pollute are being sprayed inside homes, raising levels higher than you'll find outdoors. It's time to go back to basics! We can make our own cleaning products with simple and natural ingredients and look for natural concentrated cleaners that can be diluted at home and save on packaging over time. Every little effort makes a difference.
Toronto's Growing Interest in Green Condo Living
Many Toronto home buyers are being drawn to living in a condo or loft that offers them affordability when making the decision to buy within this urban city. The Toronto population is booming in size, ranking as the fifth largest city in North America. For the urbanites, being greener is becoming more popular and necessary.
Toronto buildings ranging from schools to condos are working to earn "Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design" (LEED) certification. The LEED rating system has points awarded for environmentally friendly building characteristics in 5 key areas:
- Sustainable site development
- Water efficiency
- Energy efficiency
- Materials selection
- Indoor environmental quality
It's an internationally accepted third-party program that provides building operators with tools to have an immediate and measurable impact on their building's performance, with certification.
Condominium developers have widely embraced the LEED program, which has only been in Canada for five years. Today's condos wanting to qualify for this coveted status are being built with energy-efficient heating and cooling systems, low VOC paints and finishes, and low-E argon-filled windows. They are also including energy-saving ideas like rainwater collection facilities, motion sensor lighting in stairwells, and two-chute disposal systems for recycling on every floor.
LEED certified condos feature luxurious and green features such as individual suite controls that allow a resident to monitor and limit energy use for all switches, energy-efficient appliances, and programmable thermostats. The building amenities usually include lush rooftop gardens, individual storage units, covered parking for bicycles, close distance to transit lines, and direct access to car-sharing services. It's becoming more convenient and lucrative to not own that extra car.
Reasons for being interested in LEED certified condominiums range from helping the environment to the benefit of enjoying better indoor air quality and lower costs for water and electricity usage. You might also see a lower home insurance premium and a higher resale value for these suites. The demand for "green" is growing, and according to the Nielsen Canada-wide survey of attitudes towards buying green homes, 82% or respondents claimed they would be willing to invest more money in a home purchase if it was certified.
For the majority of eco-conscious condo buyers in the market, choosing a building can be challenging. Many of the restored and renovated old factories and buildings are becoming transformed into lofts and condos. It's a great asset to mature neighborhoods when a contaminated old factory is transformed into retail or residential lofts rather than being demolished.
More and more condo owners want to have green elements in their buildings and suites. Here are some things to keep in mind when looking for a Greener Condo Building:
- Individually controlled heat and air conditioning - keeps your heat & air low and saves energy/$
- Energy Star Appliances (great investment if your condo doesn't already have them)
- Close to public transit (leave the car home and hop on!)
- AutoShare close-by (sell the car and only pay when you need it)
- Bike storage (get physical and enjoy seeing your city)
- Low flush toilets and water-saving shower heads
- Geothermal Buildings (High Park Lofts are Toronto's 1st)
- Solar Panels
- Green interior finishes such as low-VOC latex paints, formaldehyde-free cabinets
- Green Roof
- LEED certified
For those buildings that don't yet have green upgrades, owners are starting to make their own interior changes inside the suites adding eco-friendly improvements such as energy-efficient lighting, appliances, paints, toilet and shower-heads, and even eco-friendly furniture and flooring.
Green choices today can range from where we'll live, what automobile we'll drive, what clothes we'll wear to what we will eat, while each of us does our part!