Are you contemplating home renovations? Are you concerned about doing it ‘green’? Whether your plans include major reconstruction, or a single room, here’s how you can focus on sustainability and energy-efficiency in your renovations.
1. Create a green plan
Choose straightforward, clean designs that avoid using non-sustainable materials and unnecessary ornamentation. Modern styles make this easier.
Adding an extension? Look for innovative designs to help you use smaller spaces more efficiently. Open floor plans offer flexibility and make it easy to rearrange furniture as needed. Keep in mind that if you create more space, limiting its size will require fewer building materials and, going forward, less fuel for heating and cooling.
Think about future dismantling during your design and construction. As an example, engineered reclaimed floors are micro-beveled for easy installation and dismantling – for reuse on the next project.
2. Choose eco-friendly materials
Use repurposed and recycled materials whenever possible to decrease your demand for limited, unsustainable and virgin resources. Reclaimed floors, recycled wood panels, and kitchen countertops made from recycled materials are readily available. The real green enthusiast may consider additional products – eco-friendly paints (non toxic and with no VOC), recycled tire or concrete flooring, cement fiberboard siding, and cellulose insulation. Depending on the size and scope of your project, you may want to determine your options for eco-friendly carpeting, roofing, bathrooms, kitchens, and deck materials, among others.
Looking to the future, select materials with universal appeal such as reclaimed wood floors. This will reduce the probability that future occupants of your home will feel the need to renovate.
When it’s time to purchase materials, your careful planning will help to avoid overbuying, and then discarding them. Order exactly what you need, and donate what is left over to an organization specializing in home construction, such as Habitat for Humanity’s ReStores.
3. Build and install green
Make sure the job is done well. Poorly built structures and sloppily installed design elements will require more resources over their lifetimes for rebuilding and replacement. Aim to reduce the need for such repairs in the future.
4. Clean up green
If you’ve dismantled anything for this renovation, donate the old, reusable materials from your renovation to a charity (e.g., Habitat for Humanity ReStore), or pass it along to someone who will repurpose it. You can also list the material for sale or for free on a local classified ad website. Never send materials to landfill that can be reused, repurposed or recycled.