Sustainable Apartment Buildings

Sustainable Apartment Buildings

Consumers make choices based on a host of factors. The media’s increasing focus on the environment and sustainability has led to many people feeling concerned about the environment. Therefore, environmental impact plays a role in the choices consumers make, including where they live, so builders are focusing on developing sustainable apartment buildings. 

What are Sustainable Apartment Buildings?

The builder of a sustainable apartment building has the same objective as when building any sustainable building: minimize the building’s impact on the environment.

The truly sustainable or eco-friendly building is comprehensive. “An eco-friendly approach to modern-day building encompasses every aspect of the planning and construction process, including the choice of building materials; the design and implementation of heating, cooling, plumbing, waste, and ventilation systems; and the integration of the built environment into the natural landscape,” notes online publication The Spruce.

Builders of eco-friendly apartments shy away from using new materials due to their impact on the environment. Instead, “…buildings are incorporating materials like brick and recycled or reused wood to complete construction projects,” according to The Washington Post

“…Cross-laminated timber,” notes The Spruce, “made by gluing layers of lumber together, has become a sustainable alternative for city towers and prefab houses in Europe and the U.S.” 

Sustainable Building Design

Renewable Energy Design

The goal of renewable energy design is to achieve net-zero energy use. Architectural Digest says a net zero building “…make[s] as much electricity on-site as it will consume over the course of one year. So, in theory, any energy your building is taking from the electrical grid will be returned.” 

What can be done to reach net zero in sustainable apartments? A major component is sourcing energy via renewables, including solar and geothermal.

Therefore, the path to developing sustainable net-zero apartment buildings begins with the land purchase. While sustainable apartments can be anywhere, it’s important that a building be able to utilize the sun, hence solar energy, to the greatest extent.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration found that in apartments with five or more residences, nearly one-third of energy use is spent on temperature control.

Therefore, creating a tight envelope so warm or cool air can’t easily escape is critical in creating environmentally friendly apartments. Enhanced insulation and triple-pane windows can lead to apartment dwellers using air conditioners and heaters less frequently.

Increasing the number and size of the windows in an apartment also leads to reduced energy use. First, tenants with more access to sunlight need less artificial light. Second, in addition to reducing electricity use, natural light positively impacts tenants’ physical and mental health.

While windows let in the sun, which helps heat a home, they can also impact airflow. Windows are prime areas for letting in drafts and excessive heat. In addition to triple pane windows, exterior solar shades help control airflow around windows. They block solar heat in the summer and allow the winter sun to help heat a space.

Let’s turn to another renewable energy that helps make an eco-friendly apartment. Geothermal energy is a versatile, efficient, and renewable resource, as it is generated within the Earth and can be used to heat apartment buildings. It can be installed in buildings in just about all climates and “… does not rely on any finite quantity of resources,” according to Buildings magazine.

Commercial geothermal heat pumps can be installed in apartment buildings. Geothermal heating systems are open loop systems that connect each apartment.

Of course, the best way to minimize the use of resources is to not build apartments. On that note, an alternative is renovating an existing space into an apartment building, thereby creating less waste and lowering carbon usage. However, a standing structure may not be able to utilize the sun and other elements that make for sustainable apartments.

Eco-Friendly Apartment Trends

How Apartments are Embracing Eco-Friendly Trends

Developing sustainable apartments is good business. Over a third of global consumers are willing to pay more for environmentally friendly alternatives, according to this report. Younger generations, millennials and Gen Z, lead the way in their desire for sustainability and the lengths they’ll go in support of it.

The report adds that attitudes toward sustainability’s influence on a purchase decision vary across the industry. It notes that 66% of people consider sustainability when purchasing a home. So while some environmentally friendly apartment features may add to a builder’s cost, the cost may be recouped in increased rents.

Installing energy-efficient appliances, low-flow showerheads, and roofs with high solar reflectivity indexes are examples of eco-friendly upgrades that can be used in developing energy-efficient apartments. Other eco-friendly components include paint and carpets with low volatile organic compounds.

Technology can also help create energy-friendly apartments. The Washington Post has listed a few items, such as “LED lightbulbs, motion detectors and adjustable lights, plus energy-efficient washers, dryers and dishwashers – all of which can help save on energy usage and costs. Similarly, low-flow sinks, toilets, and shower-heads help minimize water use, bringing down waste and water bills.”

In actuality, countless items can be adjusted during and after construction to make a building environmentally friendly and add to its eco-friendly flavor. Examples include a yard waste bin for compostable kitchen scraps and a gardening space so residents can grow food and flowers.


To build a sustainable apartment building, builders need to make deliberate eco-friendly choices. One way to construct an eco-friendlier apartment building is through modular construction.

To learn more about modular building, check out Villavo. We are developing a frictionless experience for apartment living that is environmentally friendly.

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