April is an apt time to gauge the sustainability of our living spaces. Earth Day on April 22 prompts us to relook at green living practices and standards followed in the leading gated communities. Built areas account for a substantial percentage of contributing to pollution in our cities. Hence, we must invest in and encourage sustainable practices in gated communities.
What is sustainable living?
The UNEP describes sustainable living as an understanding of how our lifestyle can impact the world. It focuses on reducing the consumption of natural resources while ensuring better living standards for everyone. As self-regulating communities, housing complexes have the responsibility to encourage and establish sustainable living policies.
An increasing number of states have also made such practices mandatory. For instance, rainwater harvesting (RWH) is legally compulsory in at least 14 states and 3 Union Territories. Similarly, apartment complexes are required to have a Sewage Treatment Plant (STP) at their premises. But to be truly sustainable, housing societies must make green living an indispensable part of community living. Every policy must be viewed according to its impact on the world around us.
Essential sustainable living practices
Here are 5 essential practices that we must follow to ensure a sustainable community:
Make every drop count
With water scarcity worsening every year, conservation has been a major concern for every Management Committee (MC) and Resident Welfare Association (RWA). To be effective, they must adopt a three-pronged approach: track consumption, reduce wastage, and recycle. There are multiple means of achieving these goals, including:
- Deploy ApnaComplex metered utility billing to collect water meter readings for different households.
- Install water flow regulators in every tap to control water flow and reduce water wastage.
- Install RWH to catch and utilise freely available rainwater. But be sure to pick the right design and size. To know more, read our article, Is your Rainwater Harvesting Falling Short? Here’s Why.
Read our article on Smart Water Conservation for more tips.
Track and conserve energy
Energy conservation should be a prime focus for any sustainability initiative. Like water conservation, this strategy should also involve tracking consumption and reducing wastage. Given the high energy consumption in our daily life, it’s important to conduct an energy audit to understand consumption patterns. This can be followed up by adapting and encouraging energy-efficient solutions.
- Conduct an energy audit to understand the consumption pattern over different seasons with ApnaComplex metered billing.
- Setting an energy baseline for different seasons.
- Move to LED lighting instead of CFL, GSL, or other standard lighting.
- Install energy-efficient smart devices, such as motion-sensor lighting in common areas.
- Hold educational sessions or invite smart solutions providers to help residents adopt more efficient energy consumption.
Mind your 3Rs
Follow the golden rule of the 3 Rs of sustainable living in every area: reduce, reuse, and recycle. The 3R strategy for water management and similar energy usage reduction has already been mentioned. Other initiatives include:
- Waste management with STP plant.
- Ensuring waste segregation at source by enforcing penalties in case of violations.
- Discouraging plastic use
- Repair equipment, implements, and other assets where it is economical to do so
- Go for repaired and recycled options when buying assets like furniture
- Start a composting project. The compost can be used for plants within the premises or sold to farmers.
- Educate staff and domestic workers on policies like waste segregation
- Educate residents on how to dispose of highly contaminating waste like cooking oil or batteries.
- Organise seminars and workshops
For further clarity, please read our article on Helping your Society go ZERO-waste.
The ultimate aim of green policies is to build community self-sustenance. It means meeting the community’s needs within the premises. For instance, proper rainwater harvesting can help meet the community’s water requirements. STPs can add to self-sufficiency by supplying water for flushing and watering plants.
Similarly, composting is useful in caring for green spaces within the premises. Many housing societies have also started vegetable gardens. Solar panels can help meet power requirements while Electic Vehicle charging stations are vital in meeting mobility needs.
These practices reduce dependence on outside sources like tankers. In addition, They also minimise the community’s carbon footprint.
Sustainable management of natural resources
Every gated community has access to natural resources like air, water, light, and soil. For long-term sustainability, we must invest in processes and means that can help conserve these resources. This means cutting down on pollution and wastage. Resource management is a long-term process and should be consciously considered when taking every decision.
- Invest in energy-efficient solutions like solar panels and LED lighting.
- Plant trees, shrubs, and plants to filter pollutants from the air and reduce the community’s carbon footprint.
- Install drip irrigation to water plants.
- Discourage excess consumption through slab-based billing.
- Stop the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides in green spaces. Switch to compost produced in the premises or get natural substitutes.
- Switch to natural alternatives in place of plastics in common areas and the society office and clubhouse. For instance, switch to newspaper lining in bins in place of garbage bags.
- Get RWH and STP structures regularly inspected for efficacy.
- Designate a dedicated place for the responsible disposal of electric waste. Invite e-waste disposal companies to regularly collect waste from the residents.
- Ensure proper and regular disposal of waste.
- Hold periodic workshops and seminars to raise awareness.
Sustainable living with ApnaComplex
Gather community consensus, ensure regular communication, and bring residents together to enact these policies with ApnaComplex.
- Upload waste management policies on ApnaComplex Community Wiki to ensure easy access.
- Hold polls and surveys to gather consensus for green living policies. This can help in reducing any conflicts.
- Invite ideas through Discussion Forums.
- Form special interest groups on ApnaComplex. This can include sub-committees composting and gardening groups. The app plays a vital role in easing communication between members.
- Leverage utility metered billing to audit consumption. Integrated with the accounting module, this can be used to track payments.
If you want to learn more about sustainable living solutions by ApnaComplex, get in touch with us at support@apnacomeplex or call 80886 11229.