Avocado (dravogadro) wrote in daily_granola,
Avocado
dravogadro
daily_granola

Sustainable goals for housing complex?

Inspired by the last post, I thought I might be able to get some more ideas from you all.

I live in a 400-some apartment housing co-op, with 1, 2 and 3 bedroom units. We have a sustainability committee and have been trying to come up with doable ideas for projects.

Things we have managed to get accomplished this year:
- when apartments are cleaned out (after someone moves), low-flow shower heads are being installed
- recycling bins have been painted green and have a list of items allowed in them
- compost bins have been implemented
- monthly news item in e-newsletter
- increased awareness of proper hazardous and electronic waste disposal (still needs work though)


Things we are thinking about:
- more trees planted in order to have more shade to protect the grass from drying out so quickly
- better garden care (plots aren't allowed to rest after a year)
- rain barrels for garden use
- biking seminar to teach people about bike maintenance and pathway system


We have been encouraged by management working with us on our previous projects that we want to dream. Any ideas??
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- does the apartment have covered bike storage?

- Planting more trees is a great idea, but unless the grass is shade tolerant it could just die. One alternative could be to turn some of the grass into either a community garden, or maybe garden plots that could be rented to interested tenants. Existing grass could also be cut with a reel mower, if the area isn't incredibly large.

- Reduce light pollution and keep the night sky darker by using light fixtures that direct light downward instead of toward the sky.

- Encourage apartment management to use low-VOC paint.

- You could have an annual "sustainability swap" where people bring items they don't want, and in turn get to pick out items other people don't want.
I'm not sure about bike storage because we aren't in one complex but in a bunch of smaller ones...kind of like linked townhouses. I have put out information about proper storage using tarps or some of the units have sheds.

We are hoping to create more garden plots so we can rotate them properly. The area is really big so we are stuck with the tractor things for now.

We do have occasional yard swaps. The paint and the lights are good things I will have to look into.
My university (where I work, not live) has drop boxes for electronic waste like batteries, cell phones, CD's, etc. I know I'm much more likely to utilize that then to figure out where I need to go and take a special trip to drop things off.

Someone else already mentioned covered bike parking. How about, other than just having a seminar, having a list of people who know how to fix bikes and tune up bikes that are willing to teach others when the need arises?

My community is doing a shower-timer distribution project to help people commit to saving water.

Do you have a system for arranging carpools?
We are working on the battery disposal and the cell phone disposal is an interesting idea. Where do you recycle CDs? I have been trying to figure that one out and have been unsuccessful.


Carpools and the biking gurus are a great idea!
have a permaculture garden working group - teach people how to grow their own vegetables

hazardous household waste drop off within the building ( where batteries and other things can be dropped off). ... I know that most in-city hazardous waste disposal buildings are located sometimes in very inconvenient places (industrial sections of the city, or even outside of the city) and most people will likely place their hazardous waste in a garbage without a second thought... so having a central location within the building where people can drop these things off and then someone (a volunteer, perhaps) can bring the collected items to the waste disposal facility.

improved window and door insulation to prevent in/outflow of hot/cool air in the summer/winter. Use double paned windows or weather stripping. Install thick curtains in some of the apartments, if possible.
We are working on overhauling the plot system and the working group sounds like a neat idea.

We are working on getting a battery disposal. We were trying to do hazardous waste but it would have required an enormous amount of paper work, safety inspections and large fees that we wouldn't be able to handle. We are hoping to have a haz waste day per month where we carpool to the site as a compromise.

Electronics may be helped by the fact there is someone willing to schedule an appointment with you and pick it up so they can recycle it/refurbish it.

The window and door issue is a great idea that I hadn't thought about!
it sounds like you're on the right track - and you've given thought to a lot of the things that i would have. Sounds great! I wish you the best of luck! :)
If the grass is drying/dying out, why not replace it entirely with something more suited to your climate? Our new place seems to be landscaped largely with rocks and a few shrubs. :)
This is an ever sore subject with us because we have a 'grounds' committee that insists on spraying pesticides every year and then doesn't care for the grass....apparently we are supposed to do that so no one really knows what's going on. Some people go a little too far and leave the hose running full-blast at high noon which isn't helping either.

The issue is that the housing is for partners and their children (through a university) and there needs to be large green spaces for playing.
and so they spray pesticides on the grass? That, they've just argued, is for children to play on? AAAH! :(

The issue of curb appeal seems to be the major sticky point of all apartment style housing places. :(
It is one of our long-term projects...the problem is that we are technically part of university property so they have some say over the grounds. And of course they love those lush weed-free green grounds. We filed a proposal with the student government, which is probably just more working through channels than actually useful but it's done. We are now hunting faculty for support and have support of one VP who wants pesticides banned entirely throughout the campus. I think if we are able to get ourselves as a model of a pesticide-free weed-free area, they will apply it to the entire campus......how long that will take, nobody knows. ;)
Corn gluten! Sprinkle it in the spring and it supresses weeds. And get those kids to hand-dig weeds. Works like a charm. My lawn is weed-free(ish) and definitely better than my neighbour's which was sprayed. Also, if you're going to have a lawn, fertilizing with chicken manure or a kelp spray and over-seeding helps keep it healthy. Lawns are plants, so they do have an ecological benefit over rocks by producing oxygen, absorbing run-off more effectively and reducing stormwater, providing (limited) habitat, reducing reflective heat and giving kids a place to play once we kick them outside. A few rainbarrels can help with the watering issue.

If you're composting, you shouldn't have to rest an urban garden. You should be able to replenish the soil on a regular basis with organic compost.

Oh. I just realized how old this post is. How is it going?
You could look at potential energy savings by installing solar. Even if it was just solar water heaters.
http://www.eere.energy.gov/consumer/your_home/water_heating/index.cfm/mytopic=12850
I would love to do solar and am looking into grants as we don't have much money (restructuring issues).
put bricks in the toilet tanks.

get rid of almost ALL the grass.

FOOD NOT LAWNS.

Implement a "no pesticide" rule on the property.

Rain barrels are an EXCELLENT addition.

Try to channel run off into swales and wetlands.

Glad you are not alone in implementing change!
I think water channeling is something we need to look into because whoever designed the sidewalks, put them below the grass so they end up flooding.
When you plant trees, you might want to look into trees that produce something edible—fruit or nuts.

I think having open spaces where kids can play is great, but might want to look into lawn alternatives.