Improving the energy efficiency of your building – from major retrofits to biodiverse balconies – can provide many benefits.

Real progress towards a greener lifestyle usually calls for pragmatism. Leaseholders may want to do better for the planet, but that comes with a price tag and a time commitment to manage. How can you achieve meaningful results?

Perhaps the first step is to understand the difference between sustainability, which often can require planning at the building stage of a block of flats, and the smaller eco-friendly changes we can make at any point.

Built-in sustainability can be a big ask, short of major refurbishment projects like installing solar panels or replacing all the windows. Making the most of what you’ve got to become a more energy efficient building might be more achievable and affordable. Even small changes can make big differences to running costs.

There are countless ways to make your block of flats greener. The key is to choose the ones that you and the residents will easily be able to stick to. Here are a few ideas to get you started. Some are your job as a building manager, others are ideas for individual leaseholders, who might appreciate your suggestions if you pass them on.

Smarter lighting

Most of us will have made the simple swap to energy-efficient bulbs by now, not least because older inefficient ones are being phased out.

You might want to add automatic passive infrared sensors (PIR) or delay time switches so that lights aren’t left on in corridors and stairwells. PIR lighting, which has sensors that detect presence and automatically switch lights on, keeping them on until the area is clear, may be a better option. Just bear in mind your risk assessment requirements and duty to maintain safe levels of lighting, which can also deter intruders.

Newer options can keep low-level safety lighting on all night, only boosting it to full power when there are actually people in the area.

Don’t forget those old outdoor security lights. Newer LED alternatives, made of tough polycarbonate, can be beneficial and look a lot prettier on the wall.

What about making the most of free daylight? If you have double glazed windows, make the most of the natural sunlight available.

Keep heating under control

If communal areas are heated, look at the scheduling and maybe adjust times and temperatures. Inexpensive Wi-Fi controls mean you or the RMC directors living in the block can do this in ‘real time’ from a phone or computer. You can consult the relevant parties to get agreement on timing and temperature. Commuters may only need warmth early mornings and evenings; others may want a boost during the day. Keep records of consumption and costs, so you can demonstrate that changes are effective.

Leaseholders who sublet may have a particular interest in this, as from April 2025, private rented properties in England will need to have an EPC rating of C or better for all new tenancies.

Switch to renewable energy

Buying your energy from a ‘100% renewable’ company doesn’t mean you aren’t drawing energy from fossil fuel, as it all gets mixed in the same pot in the National Grid. However, these companies do invest in new renewable resources and your custom helps them to grow that market.

Make sure to consult leaseholders about the comparative prices of suppliers. The differential is almost negligible now, but some service charge payers may deem the costs to be unreasonable.

Reduce water consumption

Reducing the water the building consumes and its wastewater output can cut bills as well as reducing the amount of water taken from rivers, bays, estuaries, and sewage overflows. It also cuts the amount of energy used to treat, pump, and heat water.

You can look at installing low flow devices in any communal restrooms and gyms and advise leaseholders about their own systems. If there’s a communal garden, a water butt can be a great way to cut down on water usage for maintaining the plants and grass.

Green cleaning

Another easy way to see green results in your facilities is by insisting on cleaners using environmentally friendly cleaning supplies. This reduces toxic runoff into water bodies and chemical fumes which can irritate building users.


Make sure the building has recycling bins for glass, paper and cardboard from the local council and encourage residents to use them.

Recycling can help to reduce carbon emissions, save energy, and reduce the demand for raw materials, helping to conserve natural resources.

Be sure to remind leaseholders what goes in which bin regularly as part of your greening campaign. They may even be interested in getting a bin for green, compostable waste from fruit and vegetable peelings and prunings from balcony pots and plants.


Improving insulation can make a huge difference to energy consumption, but it might be a big-budget project that involves consensus and consultation with leaseholders.

There are small changes you can make within your normal maintenance regime, such as filling gaps, adding draught preventers to doors, and ensuring doors to stairwells and external doors close automatically.

Plants and flowers

Make full use of any outdoor communal spaces you have. With elms and ash in particular affected by diseases, it would be a good idea to consult a tree specialist or the local council before planting trees to check on the best species before planting. Balconies can also be used by individuals to grow their own green spaces. Every little can help for the environment.

Blocks of Flats Insurance from Gallagher

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