Sustainable design. Energy efficient. Green building. Three popular terms in today’s eco friendly building world that all mean essentially the same thing – to optimize the efficiency of a building’s usage of water, energy and material resources to reduce the negative impacts on the environment and human health. Green building used to be an emerging trend, but today, builders and homeowners are more educated and aware of the importance of integrating eco friendly home design elements when planning a remodel or buying a new home. Not sure where to start; you’re not alone. This guide will help educate you on some of the core elements of green remodeling.
- Maximizing existing space. Adding square footage to a home means more materials, heating and air conditioning, electricity, and flooring. Before you add space, take a look at all the rooms in your home. Do you use them all as intended? Can you remove walls to create an open floor plan? Could you convert a screened in porch to a four-season room? Look for ways to better use the space you already have before adding more.
- Water conservation. There is so much water wasted in our bathrooms and kitchens. To help conserve water, select faucets and showerheads with the WaterSense label, which keeps water flow at 1.5 gpm. Replace toilets with low-flush models.
- Solar energy. Solar panels add another energy source to your home such as passive solar heating, which can dramatically reduce the amount of energy your home uses for heating and cooling.
- Energy Efficient Appliances. Dishwashers, washers, dryers, and heat pumps are all available in energy efficient models that can reduce your electric and water consumption and lower your bills too. Look for appliances with an Energy Star label.
- Sustainable materials. By definition, a sustainable material is one that does not deplete natural resources and has no adverse impact on the environment. A few examples include: wood, glass, bamboo, and cork. Eco friendly remodeling means utilizing sustainable building materials for such things as flooring, cabinetry, countertops, and framing.
- Recycled materials. Materials made from recycled materials such as quarry waste, rubber tires, or stone chips help conserve our natural resources and use less energy to produce.
- Non-VOC Products. Pressure treated products and paint can contain volatile organic compounds (VOC), which seep into the environment over time and can become health hazards after lengthy exposure. Select non-VOC materials like untreated lumber or low or no VOC paint to use in your remodel.