Of all of the trends seen in the modern home improvement industry, one of the most formidable is that of green remodeling. From small items like compact fluorescent light bulbs to much larger installations like living roofs, the nation's green building initiatives have made as much of an impact on the industry at large as they have on the environment. If you are interested in beginning a new project and would like to make it a more eco-friendly endeavor, here are several things to consider.
1.Opt for Responsible Material Sources
Green remodeling is changing the way residences and commercial buildings are constructed, but knowing how to be green can be challenging.
One of the biggest aspects of green remodeling is the source of the materials that are used in the project. For example, a bathroom remodel can be made more environmentally friendly by choosing materials that come from local sources rather than those that must be shipped across states, nations, or oceans to get to your home. So, if you live in an area where granite is abundant, buying locally quarried granite for your countertops is a more responsible choice than purchasing marble that must be shipped halfway across the country.
A source may also be more responsible if the practices they use to produce or harvest a material are better for the environment. For example, choosing to use linoleum--a natural product that does not require the use of harsh chemicals in its production--rather than vinyl for your flooring is likely to be a more responsible choice. Having a little wiggle room during the planning stages of your project is always a good idea if you want your remodel to be greener.
The lower the quality of a building material or home component is, the faster it will wear out and require replacement. This, of course, means that more of the items must be produced--and more energy used in the process--in order to keep up with replacement demands. By choosing materials and components that are less likely to wear out quickly, you are actually saving energy. Additionally, you may also be saving yourself money by reducing the number of repairs that the item in question will require over its lifetime as well as limiting the number of times it will require replacement.
One trend that is gaining a lot of popularity is reusing materials and fixtures that have been salvaged from old buildings. In many cases, the quality of these products is so high that they can provide you with years and years of excellent use despite the fact that they have already done so for someone else. Not only does this give new installations character and a sense of history, it also represents a conservation of energy. In the case of salvaged lumber, you are eliminating the need for another tree to be cut down, reducing the amount of energy used to create your new installation, and receiving the beauty that can only be found in aged wood all at once!
3.Note the Labels on Appliances and Fixtures
From showerheads to refrigerators and microwaves to TV sets, the Environmental Protection Agency has made an effort to make buying energy-conserving products easier. Products that carry the U.S. Government's Energy Star rating perform the same tasks as competing products, but use less energy in the process. Choosing to use these items in your next remodel is not just going to conserve energy, it'll save you money on utility bills, as well.
4.Talk to a Pro
Though reading labels is easy, it can be difficult to tell which materials, products, fixtures, and designs are ultimately the most eco-friendly choice (for example, choosing between locally harvested hardwood or renewable bamboo that was shipped across an ocean for your new floor). Thankfully, the home improvement industry has recognized how tough these decisions can be and there are now professionals who deal specifically with green remodeling and building. In some cases, you may be able to simply hire a general contractor with a knowledge of the green building process; in other cases, you may choose to hire an independent green remodeling consultant to advise you on what you can do to be a part of the solution. Either way, having a knowledgeable professional on your side to help you through the process is one of the most effective ways to remodel with energy savings and responsible practices in mind.