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Improving Environmental Sustainability Ideas for Communities

Below are a few ways homeowner and condominium associations can save energy and protect the environment. If you have other ideas that are directly relevant to associations, please e-mail them—in 150 words or fewer—to  You are free to include links to non-commercial websites.  

Conduct an Energy Audit

Contact a utility company or energy management firm to conduct an energy audit. An energy audit determines whether a home or building wastes energy and finds where energy is being lost. An audit can also offer energy-saving solutions and save money. One solution that pays for itself quickly is fluorescent lighting. Fluorescents are more expensive than incandescent bulbs, but use less power and last much longer. Many associations have been able to recover their lighting investment in six months due to savings in utility costs.

Conserve Water

Initiate a water conservation program, providing residents with free water inspections and promoting water-saving devices, such as low-flow shower heads and low-flush toilets. The savings can be considerable. Conserve water used in landscaping by implementing irrigation controls that monitor rainwater and adjust watering accordingly. Select plants that are drought resistant and suited to your climate. Target your watering to specific plants by using drip irrigation. Reduce overall water use by replacing turf in some common spaces with native plants.

Recycle Trash

Investigate recycling options with your trash contractor or local municipality. Recycling helps the environment for obvious reasons—resources are re-used instead of thrown out and landfills don't fill up as fast. Americans now recycle about a third of their waste, an amount that has almost doubled in the past 15 years, according to Earth 911. The most common materials recycled are paper, plastic, aluminum cans, steel packages and appliances.

Reduce Chemical Use

Reduce environmental pollution by cutting back on chemical herbicides, pesticides and fertilizers. Use natural remedies instead. Consider composting. Plant native grasses and wildflowers that help filter polluted storm water run-off before it reaches lakes and streams.