Renters and apartment dwellers

If you rent, or live in an apartment, you may feel frustrated by the constraints you face in seeking to reduce your carbon emissions. As a tenant, you can’t make changes to the building or ‘fixtures’ without the owner’s permission, and with anything more than minor changes you would want the owner to finance it anyway. And if you’re in an apartment you will normally need the body corporate to approve any changes beyond the interior of your own place.

But there are many positives to be aware of. For a start, you can make the same changes that house-owners can make in many other areas of your life, for example, in the transport you use, the food and other items you buy and consume, and in your household routines (including your use of heating, cooling, lighting and water, closing doors, blinds and curtains when necessary, and recycling). You can usually choose your own power company and thus choose Green power, and you can invest in renewables. You may be able to make changes to your garden, and if you can’t you can have your own portable garden of pots and planter boxes, inside or outside your home. You can engage in political advocacy, invest your money in low carbon enterprises, and participate in the sharing economy.

You should take care to check out the environmentally efficiency of any places you are considering (and the Victorian Green Renters Guide, for example, has a good ‘What to look for’ section on this).

Tenants can request that landlords make certain changes or allow them to make the changes. You can tell the landlord that this will make the place more competitive with newer, more efficient properties. When something needs to be replaced is a good time to ask for a more energy or water efficient model.

Apartment dwellers can seek to get the body corporate onside for changes that require this, which can include those concerning solar and wind power; heating, cooling, ventilation and hot water; pools; curtains, blinds, shades and awnings; lifts; window glazing; indoor and outdoor common area lighting; laundries and clotheslines; metering; and gardens. Body corporate members are ordinary people who can be persuaded – not necessarily on the first attempt – and appeals on the grounds of cost saving and comfort, as well as sustainability, can add weight to the argument.

Apartments

For energy savings in apartments see: