If you live in any kind of communal housing scheme such as a sectional title block of flats or a security estate, it is likely that you are already doing quite a lot to save resources and cut energy consumption – like sharing the garden, access roads, security lighting, electric fencing, and maybe a pool or a fitness centre with your neighbours.
However, if you really want your scheme to be “green”, why not join a major trend that is now catching on in the US and Europe and organise a partnership with a car-sharing* service?
Car-sharing schemes were originally devised by the Swiss after World War II when most people could not afford a private vehicle, and still offer money-saving benefits today in that it spreads the costs of owning a vehicle – the monthly repayments, fuel, servicing and tyre changes, parking and insurance – among several people.
Car sharing can also allow people who live close to work or school and usually walk or take public transport access to a car when they really need one for a longer trip, and can also provide versatility, in that members who usually only need a small run-around can book a truck for moving day – or perhaps a sports car for a special day out.
But the real value of the idea in the more environmentally-conscious current age is that it has been shown to take cars “off the road”. A recent study done by the University of California at Berkley, for example, found that almost half of the households participating in car share programmes gave up their cars, and Zipcar, the leading US car-share company, estimates that each of its cars removes about 15 personally-owned cars from the road.
This means less traffic congestion, less wear-and-tear on roads and, of course, less air pollution and fuel consumption and as the idea gains currency, the hope is that it will also mean less need for parking infrastructure and new road development, so that more resources can be directed to the development of other facilities such as schools, hospitals, parks and even social housing.
And seeing this, many apartment and townhouse complexes in the US and Europe are now partnering with services like Zipcar – and being supported in their efforts by local authorities. The city of San Francisco, for example, is now allowing residential developers to add more parking spots to apartment projects, provided that a certain number of bays are reserved for car-sharing programs.
*For more information about how car-sharing works, and how it differs from ordinary rental car facilities, see here.