Condo living means many things for many people. Simplified maintenance, more personal time, ease of part-time residency, co-operative management of shared common property, increased safety, affordability and many more, as varied as the people who own and live in condos. One important aspect of condo living that will be gaining greater attention is the positive impact condominium buildings, condo owners and condo corporations can have on our environment.
The impact of global warming on our environment is in the news daily and it is impossible to avoid or dispute that it negatively affects each and every one of us. Every Canadian is responsible for contributing an average of 23 tonnes of green house gases into the atmosphere every year! To help combat this, the Federal government has recently announced several initiatives for home (condo) owners to help reduce green house emissions by “greening” their homes through reducing the amount of energy consumed. Although firm details will be announced later in the spring, the government is proposing a $5000 rebate to home owners to cover the costs of increasing their homes energy efficiency. Presumably this could go towards the purchase of a high efficiency furnace, increasing the insulation in the home, installing more energy efficient windows and other similar “green” upgrades. But how can condo owners take part in this and make a difference?
Condo living already means owners work as a collective to focus on the needs and goals of all owners. It is an easy step to direct the same collective energy to find ways to reduce the carbon footprint of a condo building. If individual condo owners pool their $5000 rebates and put those funds to greening the building as a whole, the financial impact on individual owners would be quite minimal. Initiatives could include the installation of motion sensor lighting in hallways and/or parkades that only come on when someone is present, replacing old windows with double or triple pane windows, changing incandescent light bulbs to lower energy consumption florescent bulbs and reducing the temperature of the parkade. All are substantial steps a building and condo owners can collectively take to address the issue of reducing carbon emissions. As if saving the planet were not enough reward, there is the potential for condo fees to decrease when less energy is used in the building!
Enmax and Direct Energy, two of the leading energy suppliers in Calgary, already have programs in place to help condominium buildings analyze and reduce the amount of energy consumed. I encourage each and every condo board in the city to take on the challenge of reducing the amount of energy used for their building.