Going green when remodeling can be a daunting task. It can also be an expensive one as well. But, there’s a great deal of satisfaction in using recycled, resourced and sustainable materials. The prices of these green construction finishes continue to drop as the demand increases. More often than not you’ll find that green remodeling comes with higher quality items that can lead to a better resale price for your home down the road. Pick wisely and you’ll help the environment, create a safer home for your family and benefit financially when it’s time to sell!
1. Sustainable flooring is a great way to get started when remodeling or building green. Bamboo and cork are two products that come from quickly renewable sources. Be careful with some bamboo as it tends to be a bit “soft”. Opt for edge grain and/or carbonized bamboo as these are as tough as regular hardwoods like oak and maple.
2. Carpet is now being made with recycled PET plastic. What a great idea! It’s also superior in quality because it is naturally stain resistant, stronger than traditional fabrics and nylons, moisture resistant and comes in vibrant colors that won’t fade over time. Mohawk makes their everSTRAND™ brand out of 100% recycled PET resins. The company uses three billion recycled plastic bottles every year! Don’t forget about the carpet pad while you are at it. Recycled plastic padding is also available. And, car tires are now being recycled into an amazingly resilient and comfy pad. Check out www.ecosurfaces.com for their ECOcomfort underlayment.
3. Recycled glass tile is a great way to create a custom look while using a material that would otherwise end up in our landfills. Sandhill Industries makes mosaics in 36 beautiful colors (www.sandhill.com/colorpalette.asp). Other manufacturers of recycled glass tiles are Aurora Glass, Bedrock Industries, Bonfire Glass Tile and Oceanside Glasstile Company.
4. No VOC (volatile organic compounds) paints are green and create healthier indoor air quality for you and your family. We like Green Planet Paints. These paints are made from natural earth clays and pigments without any petrochemicals. Since our indoor air can be up to 5 times more toxic than outdoor air, this is a smart and healthy choice. Other manufacturers including Benjamin Moore (Natura™ line) have come out with quality “No-VOC” paints. Keep in mind that under EPA guidelines, they can have up to 5 grams/liter and still be considered “No-VOC”.
5. Low VOC adhesives are also available for the construction process. These glues for framing, flooring, drywall and tiles will lower the chance of your indoor air being polluted with chemicals. Companies like Titebond® manufacture a whole line of low VOC adhesives.
6. Make sure to purchase Energy Star appliances when upgrading your kitchen or laundry room. These appliances use less energy and are more efficient at cooking, washing dishes and clothes, baking, and microwaving!
7. Green insulation? Yep, that’s right. There’s money savings here by reducing your energy bill and using a recycled material for your walls and attics. Cocoon Insulation makes a cellulose insulation made from 85% recycled paper products. This insulation is also healthier for us and the workers as it contains no asbestos or fiberglass. And, it can offer up to 26% better performance than traditional fiberglass batting at the same thickness! And now we even have insulation made from recycled blue jeans! You heard it right. Check out www.cottonfrombluetogreen.org to see how you can get involved. This insulation is also non-toxic and safe while using our resourced Levis®!
8. A tankless hot water heater is a green building device that will pay for itself in a short period of time. These water heaters create unlimited hot water by heating water quickly and efficiently only when you need it. They don’t continually run like your traditional gas or electric hot water storage units. This saves your energy bill and reduces the amount of greenhouse gases emitted. Now that’s a win-win scenario!
9. You can now build your deck or patio using recycled plastic lumber made from your old milk jugs. The added upfront cost is more than worth it in the saved maintenance expenses in the future. The recycled plastic lumber will not warp, crack or twist like wood. It requires no staining or sealing while being resistant to termites and other boring insects. The lumber is also used to make patio furniture that will outperform any other material, last a lifetime and is warm and comfortable to the touch - www.tuwa.com/site/sub_home_decor.html.
10. Porous pavers for your driveway help the environment by letting rain water seep into the soil. Under normal conditions the water runs down into the street carrying along with it chemicals and other toxic ingredients into our rivers and streams. The porous pavers allow the water to flow down into the soil as it would normally in nature. This helps recharge our aquifers, reduce flooding and the soil filters any contaminants naturally. K.B Industries even makes a porous paver with recycled rubber from automobile tires. Flexi-Pave is slip-resistant, flexible and available in many colors.
|Other green building technologies are larger investments and take longer to see a return on your money. Solar panels, grey water retention and reuse, and geo-thermal HVAC are just some of the technologies that are the future of green construction. The higher quality of many of these green building products will save money in the long run by reducing future maintenance costs and extending their life expectancy. A small investment now can return dividends later on. And, we can reduce our impact on the environment at the same time! |