In New York, green apartments are becoming more popular, but they can be difficult to find. You can use Eco Brokers, the LEED database, and other tools to find an eco-friendly rental.
Some brokerage firms in New York City advertise themselves as green, such as Green Homes NYC, while others manage sustainable properties, like Glenwood's Emerald Green. You can use Google to find these firms, and they may be more inclined to broker green properties - though I'd recommend reading their reviews on third-party sites such as Yelp to check that they're reliable.
The EcoBroker designation is granted to real estate professionals who have gone through training in how to find affordable, comfortable properties that have a smaller environmental impact. The organization's website allows you to find your local EcoBroker through its database. Enlisting the help of an EcoBroker means that your real estate agent will have knowledge of green buildings and where to find them.
The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program certifies buildings that meet a host of sustainability criteria, including energy efficiency, water efficiency, indoor air quality, responsible material sourcing, and others. It is the most popular green building rating system in the United States, and many buildings in New York, including some apartment buildings, have earned the coveted LEED certification.
GBCI's LEED project directory lists registered (in progress) and certified projects. Multi-tenant apartments would most likely be certified under New Construction or Existing Buildings: Operations + Maintenance (for retrofitted existing buildings), though in some cases they may be certified under Core & Shell or other rating systems. Finding a LEED certified apartment should "guarantee" that the building is greener than its counterparts.
You can use many of the popular real estate search engines, such as Trulia, Street Easy, and PadMapper to find green apartments - you just need to customize your search. From my personal experience, I'd recommend using search terms such as "eco friendly" or "energy efficient", because "green" may include buildings that have the word in the name or that are on a street with green in the title. This method may take some digging - but with a 1-2% vacancy rate, what New York City apartment search doesn't take some digging?
In September 2012, New York City released the "Local Law 84 Benchmarking Report, which summarized data from 2,065 large commercial properties. It found that older buildings are more likely to have higher ENERGY STAR ratings than newer ones, meaning that they are more energy efficient. Additionally, small multi-family buildings are usually more inefficient than larger ones. Therefore, if you don't have the help of a green broker or certification, you can use this general rule of thumb to find a more energy efficient apartment.
Find LEED consultants and professionals with green building skills and experience.
Relevant education and training to consider.