If you are attempting a green remodel or are trying to lessen your carbon footprint, you’re already on the right track as remodeling is inherently greener than rebuilding. Lessen your impact on the environment as you remodel your home to be more energy efficient.
Schedule an energy audit
Hire a professional to inspect your home to uncover possible inadequacies such as air leaks or equipment inefficiencies. There are also a variety of online tools to assess your home’s energy efficiency. Not only can this enable you to heat and cool your home more efficiently, it can help you reduce your energy costs as well.
Even though all paint is now lead-free, go the extra mile and use a paint that is low-VOC or zero-VOC to remove toxins. VOCs (or volatile organic compounds) are emitted gases that negatively affect your health and pollute the air.
Install energy-efficient lighting
Save energy and cut down on bills by replacing traditional incandescent bulbs with halogen incandescents or light-emitting diodes (LEDs). Although LEDs may have a higher initial cost, each bulb can last up to 20 years and create energy savings of up to 70%. Plus, you don’t have to buy bulbs as frequently!
Rethink your countertops
Consider a paper-based countertop that is created from tree pulp (from sustainable forests). It comes in a variety of colors and is stain-, scratch- and heat-resistant. Terrazzo is also a green choice that is made from recycled glass. It’s durable and there are limitless color options.
Repurpose old furniture to use in your newly remodeled space. This green act prevents the harvesting of new trees and diverts waste from landfills.
Buy high-efficiency appliances
Splurge for high-efficiency appliances that will pay off in the long run. Consider replacing your washer, dryer, refrigerator or dishwasher.
Build a rain garden
Rainwater picks up pollutants such as fertilizer and oil, takes them to storm drains, and then dumps them into rivers and lakes. A rain garden is different from a traditional garden as the plants are arranged in a shallow depression to help soak up rainwater. When designing your outdoor space, use rubber mulch (which is made from 100% recycled tires) and synthetic grass. Synthetic grass doesn’t require mowing or water and stays a beautiful green color all year round. Still love the feel of something natural under your feet? There are lots of ground cover plant options, from sun-lovers to shade-dwellers, that don’t require mowing and use less water than grass.
Use a wood-alternative
Find a sustainable material such as Kirei Board to replace wood. Kirei is constructed from sorghum stalks which are usually burned or taken to landfills after the edible portion is harvested. If you’re set on wood, look for lumber from sustainable forests that is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), as not all wood is harvested equally. Consider composite decking for your outside space. Composite is made from wood waste and recycled plastic and won’t warp, splinter, crack or rot. Bamboo is a sustainable wood because it grows rapidly and reaches maturity in only 4 years. Bamboo is a great option for your bathroom as it holds its own in moist environments.
Implement Low-E tempered glass
Install patio doors with Low-E tempered glass, which has a coating that increases energy efficiency. The sun’s rays can still brighten up your home, but the glass suppresses heat flow, which reduces energy loss by 50%. If there isn’t room in your design budget for new doors, you can opt for a Low-E window film which adds a coating to the glass.
Cool down your roof
A cool roof reflects more sunlight and absorbs less heat than a standard roof. A standard roof can reach 150 degrees on a hot summer day while a cool roof remains 50 degrees cooler.
Analyze the opportunity for solar design
Passive solar design captures the sun’s energy and retains it in materials that are known to store heat, like concrete, brick, stone and tile. A solar energy system with solar panels that convert the sun’s energy into electricity can be added for maximum savings.
Ditch the wood-burning fireplace
Wood-burning fireplaces are romantic but a more eco-friendly choice is a direct-vent gas fireplace. These fireplaces don’t require a chimney as they use outside air for combustion. Traditional fireplaces suck up 90% of the warmth that a fire creates and also take away some of your home’s heat.
Explore alternative flooring options
Think outside the box and consider the following flooring ideas:
- Natural linoleum flooring is made from all raw materials, including linseed oil, resins and wood flour
- Soy concrete stain is an eco-friendly, acid-free stain that doesn’t contain hazardous materials
- Recycled plastic carpet is made from plastic bottles which are sorted, ground, cleaned, melted, extruded into a fiber and then spun into carpet yarn- even the bottle caps and labels are used to create the cores on which the yarn is spun around (HGTV)
- Hemp and wool carpet is made from raw and biodegradable materials that are naturally pigmented
- Cork flooring is created by stripping ⅓ of the cork oak tree’s trunk while leaving the tree undamaged (it quickly generates new bark)
If your product requires repainting, refinishing, or constant cleaning, it’s not the most eco-friendly material. Read the fine print and be wary of claims of “recycled” materials.
Consult your remodeling professional about green remodeling.