Think Green When Planning Your Next Home Remodel

Remodeling a home with green components in mind is a top priority for many homeowners today. Green remodeling does require approaching a remodel a little differently. Here are some things to keep in mind as you plan for a remodel with a green approach.

  1. Think realistically about square footage.

Consider how much space you really need, not just how much you want. After all, being truly eco-friendly means using as few new materials, and creating as little waste, as possible.  Consider utilizing attic or basement space as an alternative to adding on to leave the house’s footprint in tact.  Think about how certain rooms can perform double duty such as a home office that converts to a guest room.

  1. Search out like-minded pros.

Since residential green architecture and building is a fairly new concept, it’s important to work with a remodeler that has experience with incorporating green components and concepts and who is open and eager to do this type of work.  Make sure that they have received green certifications.

  1. Do your research.

It’s important to approach green projects armed with as much knowledge about systems and materials as possible. If your pros are seasoned green builders, you’ll be able to articulate your goals and stay engaged in discussions with them.

Visit building supply stores to research things like Energy Star appliances, recycled materials, and efficient lighting. A good place to start is the local utility company, which may offer information along with incentives and rebates. State and local government websites may also contain advice and links to resources.

  1. Think about how green you want to be.

If your goal is simply an energy-efficient house, you can focus on Energy Star appliances, on-demand water heaters, high-efficiency insulation and windows, and solar technology. If you want to take it a step further, you might consider sustainably harvested woods, reclaimed lumber, salvaged fixtures, and rainwater collection.

Even as you keep up with the latest materials, your selections may be influenced by what’s available nearby. While materials can be ordered over the Internet, you’ll have to factor in shipping costs and the environmental cost of the fuel used to transport them. Aesthetics, too, come into play.

  1. Think big, but start small.

Sometimes—no matter how good your intentions—your sense of responsibility to the environment has to play second fiddle to your budget. You will likely have to make some concessions. Start with the small stuff, choosing the greenest versions of the things you absolutely must have in the house, while staying on budget. Then reconsider your budget if there’s something more you feel adamant about having. Being green often means using materials that are initially more expensive.