How everyone can benefit from green communities

Communities that implement environmentally friendly practices to meet the needs of their residents are commonly known as green communities. These communities work to protect future generations from land, air and water pollution while reducing their carbon footprint. Major components include creating livable and walkable neighborhoods with multiple transit options, green spaces and sustainable infrastructure elements.

Enacting sustainability practices into your community is easier than you may think, and the benefits for both this generation and the next make the endeavor worthwhile.

What a green community can do for your family

Why should you be the voice for a green community? Residents can benefit from the energy-efficient methods to save money on their utility bills, specifically electric and gas. This can include using solar panels to power homes to avoid burning fossil fuels.

In your own home, choose energy-efficient machines, such as those certified by Energy Star, when shopping for major appliances, and consider investing in solar panels. The initial investment may be higher, but your family will save money annually in energy costs. Combine this tactic with insulation made from sustainable or recyclable materials, and your energy consumption and costs may lower even more. As more homes save energy, it lowers the carbon footprint of the whole community.

Green communities rely on biodegradable and recyclable materials for buildings, playgrounds and insulation. They incorporate compost for fertilizer and community gardens to feed residents. By planting trees, vegetables and flowers, the community benefits from an oxygen-rich atmosphere and pesticide-free food. Children can learn gardening skills and the importance of contributing scraps into a communal compost heap.

Also, communities choose to use vendors and manufacturers who practice sustainability to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and other chemicals during the manufacturing process. This is important for specific structures, such as playgrounds, to ensure safety in the neighborhood.

How you can get involved in the community

Your community can aspire to become a green community by seeking LEED certification. LEED for Neighborhood Development (LEED ND) can assist you in marketing and funding a green project to financiers, public officials and others. You can also apply for LEED certification if your project is close to completion or was finished in the last three years.

The EPA provides a guide to homeowners, builders, neighborhood groups, utility companies and organizations to assist in green infrastructure planning. Published in 2014, the guide suggests steps you can take including organizing stakeholders, developing a community vision and establishing goals. 

Get further involved in your community by volunteering to create and maintain a community garden and compost heap. The scraps will benefit the garden as fertilizer, and your family won’t have to worry about chemicals in the produce.

Whether you are a homeowner or a contractor, you can use these green tactics to improve and grow your community for generations to come.

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