8 Ways to Keep Your Home Renovations Green
If you are planning a home renovation project, you are likely concerned with keeping costs down. While many people think that “green” renovation practices are expensive, the truth is that many green practices are just as easy on your wallet as they are on the environment.
1. Before you begin your renovations, hire a licensed inspector to make sure no asbestos, lead paint, or other hazardous materials are present in areas you plan to renovate. Asbestos dust, toxic molds, lead-based paints, etc. can become airborne during renovations and can cause health problems and environmental issues. You can find a licensed firm in your local Yellow Pages.
2. Recycle lumber, metal, glass, and other “debris”. Consult a construction materials exchange in your area, which can be located through the Yellow Pages or at the U.S. Green Building Council’s Green Home Guide. It should be noted that recycling materials that contain asbestos or lead paint is prohibited, so any contaminated debris should be kept separate from materials you want to recycle.
3. Purchase renovation materials in reusable containers. Some retailers will ship or sell you the materials you need wrapped in blankets or stacked on wooden pallets, and may reimburse a portion of the purchase price to you when you return the packing materials.
4. Donate any surplus or unneeded materials to local charities, or to individuals through Craigslist or FreeCycle. Items that are often in demand include copper, lumber, or masonry. Local school districts may also be in need of these materials, either for their own renovations, for classroom projects, or for extracurricular activities.
5. Think about the sun, and then plan your renovations accordingly. If you are looking to cut energy costs, place windows and/or sunlights in the renovated area thoughtfully in order to help reduce heating or cooling costs. Boost those energy savings (and your project’s environmental friendliness) by installing soy-based foam insulation.
6. Replace old appliances and water fixtures with Energy Star items. Energy Star items are rated by the U.S. Government, and include washing machines, dryers, electronics, faucets, showerheads, and many other household items.
7. Buy local. Whether you are purchasing wallpaper, lumber, or anything in between, common renovation items and materials that are bought locally can reduce your project’s carbon footprint, as you have to drive a shorter distance to pick up the items. And if the items are also locally made, that also means that the cost of transporting the items to the store was low, also reducing a project’s impact on the environment.
8. Build to LEED specifications, espescially if you are remodeling with an intent to sell. The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System, developed by the U.S. Green Building Council, is a voluntary, consensus-based standard to support and certify successful green building design, construction and operations. Depending on your exact situation, LEED projects may qualify you for tax credits and other incentives.