Apartment renters see green

Anyone who's leased an apartment knows that rent control and peace and quiet rank high on a renter's wish list.

To that list, add a strong preference for living in an "eco-friendly" apartment, according to a recent Rent.com survey. The questionnaire was timed to coincide with the 40th anniversary of Earth Day on April 22.

A whopping 86% of respondents said they would prefer to occupy a green living space and 55% claimed they would be willing to pay more to do so.

A sizable number -- 28% -- said they'd pay $50 more per month for an eco-friendly apartment, while 14% would pay $100 more. Later in the survey, however, two-thirds of the respondents said that money was the key impediment to making eco-friendly lifestyle choices. Additionally, 18% said lack of information about how to adapt a green lifestyle prevented them from doing so.

Of those who claimed to be familiar with green living, 40% said changing all of an apartment's incandescent light bulbs to compact fluorescent ones is the easiest solution to helping the environment; 22% cited reusing grocery bags; 19% recommended running dishwashers and washing machines only when full. So far, so good.

When asked how they envision a "green" apartment, however, their answers wandered from pedestrian to huh?: 57% see solar panels (good!) and recyclable shopping bags (pretty good), but 20% envision a "21st-century, avant-garde chic" living space. Hmm. Another 14% envision a "green menagerie of fresh plants and produce." Is that a garden? A lean 5% see a "cold, dark and sparse" living environment, while 4% see a "hippie pad." Alrighty then.

What items do green-friendly renters want in their complexes? Twenty-eight percent said they want energy-saving appliances and 27% said they seek a streamlined recycling process. Nearly one-third of survey-takers said it is their responsibility to take steps to improve the environment; 9% said that job falls to the property owners.

Leah Zachary, a 25-year-old computer animator, found what she was looking for two years ago in Venice, Calif.

"My apartment has Energy Star appliances and the building and pool are solar-heated," Zachary says. "They use gray water for irrigation. My unit even has low-flow toilets."

Say no more!

Surprisingly, many survey respondents said they would be willing to give up their popular energy-eating conveniences to go green. Some 45% percent said they would forgo a dishwasher, while 22% said they'd give up a plasma TV. And although 15% would do without a microwave, 22% said they wouldn't make any concessions. So there.

No matter the level of contribution renters are willing to make, an impressive 72% think going green is important to "all age groups and demographics." Even if it means springing those extra bucks.
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