There are many factors which come into account when making your home remodeling decision a green one. To have a green home means everything comes together in perfect harmony for the homeowner, our environment and eco-systems. It is the culmination of water and electrical efficiency, site development, indoor air quality, and environmental and human well being. When it is all done, the sustainability of our resources is guaranteed, as well as saving the homeowner more money overall on the cost of their utilities and maintenance, when compared to the more traditional remodeling options, over the lifespan of the home.
Where to begin?
When starting your remodeling project the first step should be finding a contractor who is LEED accredited. (Leadership in energy and environmental design.) By making sure your contractor is LEED accredited you will ensure yourself a builder who has the experience and training to complete your green project. The U.S. Green Building Council offers training programs for contractors and builders. Contacting them or visiting their website may be the best place to start your search for a remodeler for your home.
Choosing the best products for your home
When it comes down to making a decision about the products, appliances, and building methods best suited for your home out of the thousands which are available for you to choose from; it will come down to overall cost and how deeply green you wish your home to be. For almost every decision which comes up in the planning process there are invariably two ways to go; green, and greener. One example of this would be your hot water heater. The green option is selecting a tank size best suited for your home and usage to minimize waste and heat loss; the greener option is installing a tankless water heater because there is no waste or heat loss, you simply get hot water as you need it. As you embark on this journey keep this in mind as you go.
Incorporating green into an existing structure
Dependant on the extent of your remodeling job and where you need to begin in the building process will determine the first steps you will take. If you are doing a complete remodel or building an addition onto your home the first step would be with your wall studs. A conventially built home uses 2×4 wooden studs; for the green builder a good item to look at would be wall studs made from recycled materials. These are beneficial in many ways such as they will not rot like standard lumber can, they are not prone to termite infestations, they keep much material out of landfills, and best of all if they ever need taken down they can be recycled over and over. Another good option is using lumber harvested from sustainable forestry methods. This is another example of green/greener.
For wall covering there is really only one green option; it is called ecorock. Conventional drywall is the most used and manufactured building material in the world, the process used to make conventional drywall puts 51 million tons of Co2 into the atmosphere and use an estimated 1% of all energy in the United States. Ecorock’s manufacturing process eases the burden on the environment drastically.
Selecting wall paints to cover the finished Ecorock once you have it installed can be where it gets tricky. There are low VOC (Volatile Organic Compound) emitting paints, paints which are supposed to emit no VOC’s, but the regulations on manufacturing and product labels can be loose at best. The greenest option would be to go with a natural paint. Natural paints are made from dyes and pigments made from plants and organic compounds. The downside to natural paints is they cost on average 20% more then conventional paints, they take longer to dry 2-3 days instead of 1 day, and they are harder to find. The upsides to natural paints is that considering how long paints tend to stay on the walls of our homes the extra cost and drying time will be well worth the effort. Conventional paints are the second largest cause of VOC emission second only to automobiles. VOC’s have been proven to cause cancer and many other major health effects.Energy Star
When it comes to putting appliances in your newly green remodeled home do not just look for the energy star logo. It has been proven that many of the energy star rated products are not as efficient as the label states. It is very important to ask many questions either of your builder or the salespeople where you are planning on making your purchases. The Home Depot also has an Eco-Options designation for many of the items they sell. Not all energy star rated appliances qualify for the Eco-Options designation, when possible this is the best choice.
When you are looking to remodel your home to green standards keep in mind the long term costs. Greener homes cost less to operate and maintain over the course of their lifetime. You and your family will be healthier, breathe easier and sleep better at night knowing you are doing everything you can to protect our environment.