Occasionally, I like to invite a guest blogger to share some insights about their field of expertise. Today’s guest blogger is Chris Connors of San Francisco’s Design Solutions, a team of Certified Green Building Professionals.
Remodeling an existing home, rather than building a new one, is the ‘greenest’ decision a homeowner can make. Open land is preserved and the energy required to make the materials for a new house (concrete, lumber, metals, plastics) is saved.
Making an existing home more “green” is easier nowadays than ever before. There has been a proliferation of products, systems, and materials designed to reduce energy and resource consumption. Such products reuse materials rather than extract virgin resources.
These “green” solutions help:
Here are just a few ways a home remodeling project can reduce a home’s environmental footprint:
Insulation – According to the Dow Corporation, the combined open space in the average home created by gaps, cracks and holes is the equivalent of a four by four foot open window. Installing or upgrading insulation in the walls, floors, and ceiling/attic, with special attention to the myriad openings in the house (e.g., electrical outlets) helps block thermal transfer through the home’s structure. Properly installed insulation and the skillful use of caulk and expanding foam makes a more comfortable indoor climate that requires less energy to maintain. Many new insulation products include recycled content, such as denim, to make them even more eco-friendly.
Windows – High-performance insulated windows and glass doors that block hot or cold air and the sun’s ultraviolet rays not only reduce home energy consumption, but also create a more comfortable living environment.
Energy Efficient Fixtures – Appliances rated by the federal Energy Star program for their energy efficiency — from laundry equipment to refrigerators and furnaces — are designed to work better and last longer with less energy use. Water heaters are more energy efficient. Tankless versions conserve water, too. Low-flow toilets, front-loading clothes washers, and most faucets are designed to reduce water use without sacrificing performance or reliability.
Lighting – Upgraded, Energy Star-rated light fixtures equipped with compact fluorescent bulbs and now Title 24 approved LED bulbs serve both task and general lighting needs at a fraction of the energy use required by traditional incandescent bulbs.
Non-toxic Finishes – Non Urea-formaldehyde plywood and cabinet adhesives, paints and coatings made without volatile organic compounds (VOCs) offer comparable performance without the toxic off-gassing and odor of conventional finishes, thus improving indoor air quality.
Driven by sky-rocketing energy prices, concerns about global warming and greenhouse gas emissions, and the desire to make a positive difference, homeowners are searching for ways to shrink the environmental impact of their homes. Using any of the above suggestions would be a great way to do your part, save the environment, and in many cases, even save a little money!