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The Green Renter: How an Eco-Friendly Movement Is Changing the Rental Industry

Although Millennials are getting older, they are still a generation focused on renting, along with their younger counterpart Gen Z. These renters are looking for amenities to fit a lifestyle shaped by technology, connectivity, and a strong sense of self-awareness. With the increasing popularity of remote working, the growth of social media which fuels remote connectivity, and the rise of e-commerce, people spend more and more time at home. Home becomes a reflection of who the renter is, and the industry ought to adapt and provide new apartment and community amenities.

Green apartments are responding to the needs of this new renter. The number of new green units has grown significantly during the last 10 years, and not just in the US. Although this is a good sign, the rate of green building construction can still improve. It seems that the demand for green rental apartments is growing, being fueled both by consumers and investors.

The Green Renters and the Demands They Generate

The eco-friendly renter wants to live in a community that has a positive impact on the environment, a construction built with reclaimed materials, which reduces energy consumption and waste. They live healthier lives, buying locally-sourced produce and working out, meditating, going vegan, and choosing fair-trade products despite higher costs. They feel more integrated with society and this prompts their decision to rent in green buildings.

I think today’s renter is much more environmentally aware and conscious of their behaviors than in previous years. Not only are they focusing on their personal and familial health and wellness, but they are also more concerned with the well-being of their pets and the community as a whole. Therefore, they are looking for living spaces and experiences that make them feel good about their effect on the environment around them. This can be as simple as having access to a recycling bin.” said Lauren Werkiser, design director at Morgan Properties, the nation’s 20th largest apartment owner and operator.

millennial green eco-friendly renters

Although we cannot pin down exactly how much these green features influence the renter’s decision, a large segment of the more financially-stable renters seems to be willing to pay extra. Werkiser added that “[m]ost renters see the value in green features and consider them a bonus when choosing an apartment. However, whether they choose to pay more for these features is completely dependent upon what life-stage they are at. For instance, it is not likely that a younger renter, such as a college student or recent graduate, will deem green features worthy of paying higher premiums, as they are typically at the stage of renting their very first apartment and much more concerned with quickly gaining their independence on a budget.”

The most common amenities in green buildings

green buildings amenities

A look at green buildings listed on RentCafe shows that the most frequent amenities are indeed focused on personal health and community engagement, while also showcasing the modern renter’s desire for privacy.

Wellness amenities are extremely important to this demographic as well, as more than 75% of millennial renters say they are striving to achieve a healthy lifestyle, according to National Multifamily Housing Council’s 2018 Disruption Report. The same report showcases that renters are looking for apartments with room for personalization, spaces that are adaptable and easy to change, since the lifestyle of the new renter changes very quickly as well.

Renting Green as Part of a Larger Social Movement

The eco-conscious renter is adhering to a culture of sustainability that preaches attention to group responsibility. The impact one has on the community and the environment seems more important than results at individual-level. Green buildings are an upfront investment and help reduce waste and diminish electricity costs over time, not only for the ones renting or working in green buildings, but also for the community at large. The impact of green construction on the environment and climate change is undeniable, considering that buildings represent 41% of the total US energy consumption and almost 40% of national CO2 emissions. With more interest and investment towards building green, these numbers are sure to diminish.

As the world becomes more and more aware of the consequences our actions have on the environment, a sense of duty spreads around, influencing the mentality of the younger generations and prompting a social movement focused on environmental consciousness. With changes happening all over different fields – from shopping to décor or even insurance policies going greener –,  it’s only natural that the rental market adapts as well, pushing towards more environmentally-friendly solutions. Multi-family green buildings promote wholesome sustainability, being the alternative to wasteful construction and fitting in with the demands of the new generations of renters.

Interested in green living? Search for green apartments in your city on RentCafe today.

Mihaela Buzec
Mihaela Buzec
Mihaela Buzec is a senior writer and online content developer for RentCafe. She covers topics about everything related to the renting lifestyle, from decorating and interior design to finding the right apartment, frugal living, money saving advice, and more. She dives deep into topics of interest, writing well-researched comprehensive guides on subjects such as renting with pets, saving on utilities, or avoiding rental scams to help renters stay informed and live smart. Mihaela holds a BA in English and German Language and Literature, an MA in Current Linguistics, and she is currently pursuing a PhD in neurolinguistics.

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