Condos vs Houses: Which Is Better For The Environment?

Guest Post by: Kylie Martin, Freelance Content Writer

Environmental awareness has recently become a trend, especially amid the COVID-19 pandemic. A 2021 study by Mastercard revealed that 58% of adults are now more mindful of their impact on the environment. Another 42% said the pandemic made them more aware or conscious of their purchases.

These new consumer behaviours are not only linked to purchases in retail but also to investments like real estate. Prospective homeowners, many of whom are millennials, now prefer to move into green properties, and it is easy to see why.

Studies show that the real estate industry accounts for 39% of total global emissions, a small portion of which come from manufacturing construction materials. The rest of the emissions are from buildings and when generating power for these buildings. 

Considering these harmful effects, prospective homeowners are now faced with a dilemma: which is the smarter move, investing in a small property like a condominium or a large one like a house? This article will dive deeper into both environmental prospects and impacts and discuss other ways homeowners can help save the planet.

Environmental Impacts of a Condominium and a House

Before investing in your “forever home,” consider weighing the environmental pros and cons of getting a condo or a house first.

Getting a condo

Pros

  • Environmental priority

Today, many condo developers adopt green building standards to achieve common certifications like Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), WELL, the Living Building Challenge, and Energy Star.

For example, in the Philippines, condo developers adhere to the Philippine Green Building Code throughout the building’s life cycle—from site selection to operation and maintenance—to be certified for sustainability and durability.

In line with these standards, modern condos are built using eco-friendly appliances and construction materials such as low volatile organic compound paints, energy-efficient ventilation systems, and LED light bulbs. 

These appliances and materials allow condo dwellers to enjoy better indoor air quality, energy and water savings, and a comfortable and sustainable lifestyle. 

Source: Jonathan Borba
  • Less space intake

Since condos have smaller floor plans than houses, owners can only purchase what they need, such as essential furniture and appliances. Without room for more electronics, they can save on costs and energy.

This, in turn, encourages some condo dwellers to adopt a minimalist lifestyle, positively affecting how they travel, consume food, and use various products and services.

As evidence, a study found that people who downsized to tiny homes were more likely to eat less energy-intensive food and adopt more eco-conscious eating habits.

These people also purchased fewer items, recycled more paper and plastic, generated less trash, and used fuel-efficient cars, helping them further decrease their ecological footprint.

  • Convenient location

One of the unique selling propositions of condos is that they are conveniently located near commercial places and essential establishments such as malls, schools, and offices.

Some condos even rent out spaces to convenience stores and laundry facilities so that dwellers no longer need to leave the building to get and do their necessities.

Thanks to the strategic location of condos, people no longer need to take their car to go places, helping them save on gas and reduce emissions. They can simply walk, ride a bicycle, or take public transportation to work or school.

  • Increased value over time

You can expect modern condos to last long since they are made with eco-friendly and durable construction materials. Despite these materials coming at hefty prices, they result in a positive return on investment since they would make condo maintenance easier and only require minimal to no repairs or replacements.

Cons

  • Little to no outdoor space

The best condo dwellers could get to having personal outdoor space is their balcony, which is always not spacious enough to plant their own produce, air-dry their clothes, and others.

However, this is not as bad as it sounds. Condo dwellers can turn to vertical gardening if they want to harvest their own produce to save on food costs.

If permitted, they can also set up a shared garden on their condo’s rooftop. They only need to control the greenery to avoid cases like pest infestation, like what happened to a housing estate in Chengdu, China.

  • Collective costs

Condos often have common areas and amenities such as swimming pools, gyms, and function halls. These are all paid for by the condo owners through their association dues.

While amenities are offered to all dwellers for convenience, they cannot control when and how long these spaces are used. Thus, more amenity usage comes with more energy consumption. Moreover, owners will have to pay more for their association dues when certain appliances need to be repaired or replaced.

Getting a house

Source: Pixabay

Pros 

  • More outside space

Since people with houses have more outside space than condo dwellers, they have more opportunities to plant trees, harvest as much produce as possible, and more. By investing in their greenery, they can enjoy improved air quality, savings on food costs, and a calming environment.

Bigger outside space is also an attractive property trait among families with children and pets, proving that houses have a high property value.

  • Fewer pollution

Homeowners can also enjoy less air and noise pollution, especially if their houses are located away from the city or in a gated community. The houses’ strategic location puts them away from business districts and regular road traffic, allowing people to stay healthy, feel safe, and enjoy some peace and quiet.

  • Common amenities

Those living in gated communities no longer need to travel far to enjoy sports, host parties, and more, as many recreational facilities can be found within their area. Some standard amenities include a clubhouse, fitness and sports centre, banquet halls, and playgrounds.

Homeowners can save on gas and reduce their carbon footprint by utilising these amenities.

Some gated communities also have lanes for joggers and cyclists who want to exercise without passing through busy and congested roads. This helps them stay safe within their community as they improve their physical health.

  • More freedom for eco-friendly upgrades

Some homeowners might want to renovate their properties if they were initially built without adhering to green building standards. In this case, people who live in houses have more of the upper hand than condo dwellers.

Homeowners have more freedom to turn their eco-friendly home renovation ideas into a reality, whether they are major eco-friendly upgrades or simple appliance installations.

Cons

  • Greater energy usage

Since houses have larger floor layouts than condos, some homeowners are tempted to fill empty spaces with more furniture and appliances. This leads them to purchase more and consume more electricity, consequently increasing their expenses.

This does not only apply to the inside of the house but outside, as well. Some homeowners may invest in exterior lighting, home security systems, and landscaping to fit their lifestyle, leading to more energy and resource consumption.

  • Distant location

Homeowners often have to drive their cars to get to places, especially if their houses are away from business districts or the city proper. This leads to increased expenditure on gas and other commodities—not to mention higher emissions from their cars if they aren’t driving electric.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Property

If you do choose one property over the other, make sure to consider some factors before making your investment. You can ask yourself the following questions:

  • Does the developer of the property have experience with green buildings?
  • Are the appliances in the property designed for energy efficiency? 
  • Is the property near commercial places I frequently visit?
  • Is the property located in an area with proper waste disposal? 
  • How can the property’s green technologies affect my costs?
  • Can the property be optimised for eco-friendly upgrades? 
  • Does the property have enough natural lighting to reduce my electricity consumption?

By answering these questions, you can clearly understand what you want for your property with respect to your environmental advocacies and lifestyle.

Other Ways to Help Save the Environment 

Whether you choose to live in a condo, a house, or other types of properties, there are many different ways you can help save the environment. For example, you can air-dry your clothes instead of using a dryer. To save on costs, you can install eco-friendly and energy-efficient appliances; turn them off when you are not using them.

You can also recycle non-single-use items like grocery bags, glass or plastic bottles, and even old books and clothes to maximise their utility and extend their lifespan.

Lastly, you can lobby for systemic change by encouraging other homeowners to go green and pushing developers to continue adhering to green building standards. Advocating for the environment goes beyond individual acts; Both individuals and corporations need to work together to promote green living and ultimately protect the environment. 

These practices ensure that the planet continues to be an inhabitable place for everyone today and future generations.

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