Impact at Cohabs

By Melanie Keegan Published 12/10/2022

Since the beginning of Cohabs in 2016, we have been obsessed with providing the best experience to our members so they can create unforgettable memories and form life-long friendships. Part of this experience includes reducing the impact we have on the planet and being as conscious about sustainability as we can.

From the materials we build with to the processes we use, Cohabs tries to design, build, and innovate in a way that helps our planet. We endeavor to be active participants in the preservation of the environment.

Just how do we do that? Continue reading to discover the different things we do to ensure a positive and sustainable impact.

Coliving is a more sustainable lifestyle

By sharing resources instead of living in individual studios or apartments, our members drastically decrease their carbon footprint.

The core of coliving is sharing a space as well as utilities and assets. By bringing a small community into a home, coliving encourages sharing or swapping so that nothing has to go to waste. Our members share resources as well as energy, and in this way coliving reduces more than half the carbon emission per household. When people share the same roof, it is inevitable that pieces of their life will meld together, whether it’s a simple meal, or transportation to work.

We renovate old houses instead of building new ones

The CO2 impact of a renovation is lower than building a house from scratch. We renovate large buildings in poor condition and we innovate every day to find as many environmentally friendly materials and processes as possible. Breathing new life into forgotten, discarded, and crumbling spaces is a great way to cut down on impact.

We create our own energy!

So far, 9 of our houses in Brussels produce their own electricity! For every house we renovate, we run a study and install solar panels wherever possible. In a single year, our solar panels produce 32 978,5 kWh, which covers the electricity consumption of 6 of our houses per year. We also rely partially on renewable energy to reduce our emissions and promote responsible energy consumption.

Using up-cycled or second-hand furniture

We love giving a second life to objects and furniture! Furnishing our homes with second-hand items and refurbished furniture is much more sustainable. In this way, we can avoid buying products that are harmful to the environment and poorly made so that they fall apart after a single use. Our homes and all the furniture and decor that go inside are designed with intention and with longevity in mind.

We monitor our water and electricity consumption

Another way we’re able to reduce a negative impact on the planet is by tracking our consumption. We’ve partnered with Shayp and installed their smart device on our water meters to detect leaks remotely. We also collaborate closely with Tapio, a startup specializing in carbon emission calculation and reduction strategy.

In addition to monitoring our resources, we meticulously select local and sustainable suppliers who help us choose more responsible materials.

We make sure our houses are equipped with sustainable home appliances:

  • The latest boilers and outdoor sensors so the central heating only turns on when it’s cold outside
  • A rainwater harvesting system
  • Smart energy monitoring tools such as temperature controllers
  • The Shayp intelligent water-monitoring system alerts us when there’s a potential leak
  • Motion sensor detectors for the lights in common areas
  • Low-flow shower heads in all our showers.

On top of that, 100% of our houses that can support solar panels are equipped with them to create their own energy.

We support projects that reduce carbon emissions

We offset our CO2 footprint by supporting three projects with the highest levels of environmental positive impact and integrity. Cohabs is also a proud member of 1% for the Planet, an initiative that funds environmental nonprofits worldwide to accelerate smart environmental giving.

Launched in 2002 by Yvon Chouinard, founder of Patagonia, and Craig Mathews, founder of Blue Ribbon Flies, 1% for the Planet has quickly become a global movement. The idea is simple: everyone gives 1% of their revenue or time to help protect the natural resources they benefit from.

To achieve that, 1% for the Planet connects their 3000+ members with high-impact nonprofit partners that align with their values and add to their brand story.

Cohabs officially become one of those members in 2021, by committing to donate 1% of our annual sales revenue to the organization.

We encourage our members to be more sustainable

Being more sustainable is a group effort. We do our best when renovating and decorating our houses, but one thing that makes the largest difference is how our members actually live in them.

We regularly organize solidarity and sustainability events for our members and we always try to collaborate with local and ethical producers for these events. We promote sustainable products and make sure our members always feel empowered and inspired. We’re stronger together, and every little bit counts.

Here are some small things to do that can create a big impact:

  1. Control the temperature and always keep heating at 3 or 4 maximum
  2. Turn off the heater when not home or when the window is open
  3. Run the laundry machine and dishwasher during the night as it consumes way less
  4. Don’t run hot water for longer than needed; just one minute can consume 12 liters of water
  5. Turn the lights off when a room is not in use!

One of our key values is to reduce the impact we have on the planet. We are unfortunately living through one of the most dire global crises our world has witnessed. The effects of climate change are becoming increasingly severe, and the consequences will be irreversible if we do not act now.

This is not a question of knowledge or desire; we absolutely have to do better, and be better. For ourselves and for our world.

This is a team effort, and we can’t do it without our members. Every little thing counts, and if everyone comes together and pitches in to do their part, our environmental impact on the planet and can be reduced.

About the author Hey there! I'm Mel, perpetually hungry Content Manager at Cohabs.