These days, it seems like you can't go more than a few hours without hearing the word "green" thrown around. "Going green" is shorthand for a person or organization taking steps to help out the environment. There are hundreds of ways a household or company can go green, and some are less expensive than others.
Using sustainable building materials is a great way a developer or homeowner can help reduce their environmental footprint. Changing out old appliances for more efficient models or beefing up the insulation is another way. Switching to solar or wind power or choosing from a number of alternative heating and cooling sources are more expensive options.
These methods generally cost some serious up-front money and pay off financially in the long term. But going green doesn't have to mean expensive retrofits. Simply recycling and composting your waste, using low VOC paint or adding weather stripping to drafty windows can help reduce the carbon footprint of your home or office. Many new buildings and homes are striving to achieve Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification, a green building ratings system devised by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC).
All these efforts by homeowners and commercial builders are leading the way to help preserve the future of our planet. But there's a large segment of society that seems to be overlooked in the green movement: the tenants. In late 2007, the United States Census Bureau estimated that there were 110.3 million occupied households. Thirty-five million of these households were inhabited by renters [source: census.gov]. Tenants who want to reduce their footprint are largely on their own, but there are some interesting new incentives all over the world encouraging landlords to go green.