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How Can You Make Your Home More Green & Efficient?

Overland Remodeling is all about remodeling ‘green’ whenever possible. But what does that mean? Sure you have heard the term bandied about but do you really know what is entailed and in ‘green building?

Greener building and design begins before the hammering and brick-laying even commence. Because we care about your money and the aesthetic design of your overall concept, we proceed thoughtfully when remodeling. Often remodeling can be wasteful if the process isn’t well planned. This is especially true when remodeling ‘green’ and let’s face it, wasteful building is hardly ‘green’ building. Therefore when deciding to do a ‘green’ remodel, there are steps that you can take to effectively proceed by practicing waste-not, conscious remodeling.

Here are some useful tips for you to follow in the planning stages.

Waste Not, Want Not

Some of you may not even know it, but just by deciding to remodel instead of purchase a new home, you are taking a small first step to being ‘green.” Yes, you may give yourself a congratulatory pat on the back for being environmentally conscious (or unconscious as it were).  When you remodel, you are reusing an existing foundation. So essentially, this is a form of recycling. Both building and remodeling can be wasteful projects but by remodeling, you use less energy and invest more in the labor than the materials. It is good for the economy and supports a ‘green’ building philosophy. So congratulate yourself. “But wait,” you say, that is not ‘green’ enough. I want a green, energy efficient kitchen and bathroom and… I want to go all in!”

Read on if you are ready to tackle an official, bona fide ‘green’ home remodel.

Light the Way

So you want to not only save waste by remodeling, but really save energy and the environment. Yes, this can be done. Light will save heating cost. Put lots of windows in your kitchen and bathroom. Not only will the light save on energy but if you insulate well, it will be warmer in the winter. And in the summer you can open the windows let in the breeze and save on air conditioning. In addition, install energy efficient appliances—it may be a little more at the outset for a green kitchen remodel or a water saving toilet, but you will save money in energy bills in the long run.

When in doubt, always bring daylight into your home, Take advantage of the sun when you want it and keep it out when you don’t. Also adding reflective roof coatings, installing tubular skylights and creating thermal mass are just a few ways to work with the sun. 

Your Now and Forever Home

If you are planning to stay in your dream home long term, then when you plan a remodel, think not only about now when your children are toddlers, but envision what you will need when they are gone and out of the house. These simple steps can save you on waste now as well as having to spend more money on additions or remodels in the future. Also think classic design. There are trendy ‘home features’ now that are big sellers but there are also the trends that have proven staying power through the years. For instance, a brick exposed fireplace, while once a trend, hasn’t really gone out of style. The same with wood floors and granite counter tops. Think of design, utility and aesthetics but don’t forget the value of classic tried and true design and building materials.  The more we remodel with all ages, style, and potential uses in mind, the less likely we are to need an additional remodel down the line. The less we need to build, the greener we’ll be.

Your Trash May Be Someone Else’s Treasure

Before you think about the elements of your remodel, plan where to deliver the daily waste from the rebuild. This is a great way to think green! Not only will this make your neighbors happy that the waste from the remodel is being promptly removed, but you will feel like you are doing something good while at the same time cleaning the environment. Don’t throw it away! There are plenty of places to recycle. If you do not know, look it up on the Net before you start the remodel. You will be shocked at how many companies are devoted solely to recycling your waste. For example in Philadelphia Revolution Recovery sorts all construction waste and diverts 75 percent from landfills — a number that is growing as new markets and technologies emerge. By the way this typically doesn’t cost you anything! If you really cannot find any company that will pick up your building waste, you may call a non-profit like Habitat for Humanity and donate the excess materials. Trust and believe, there is no reason to dump any building materials in the trash, not in environmentally conscious times like these.

Take a Deep Breath Before You Start

The toxic emissions conversation is one you should have before you start the home remodel. A lot of builders claim to be green but then they use toxic air polluting materials. And in tried and true green areas, attention should be paid to reducing off-gassing. You should use low- or no-VOC  paints, sealers and caulks. Look for products that don’t contain formaldehyde. You’ll want to pay extra special attention to this if you have small children or you will be spending a lot of time in the area while the remodel is being done—even if it is in the other room. You will be surprised how in a humid environment with very little ventilation, how fast the smell can travel and infiltrate the air. It is not healthy and quite frankly, largely unnecessary with all of the choices of paints and sealers that are on the market today. So have this conversation! Also moisture levels in the house are just as important. Baths and kitchens must have good exhaust fans to reduce the amount of carcinogens that are released into the air especially in the kitchen. Also in extra humid conditions, moisture can lead to mold, again especially in the bathroom and kitchen. Ask your remodeler how you can avoid this before you start the remodel—they are usually quite informed about mold and toxins.

Local is Greener

If your materials have to travel half way across the world from China on a jumbo jet, you are not really building green even if your builder swears by these ‘green’ materials. Again think and plan ahead. Green is the big buzz word in the building community but think about it, if it looks black and smells black, it ain’t green! So buy local. This is very easily accomplished. You will help your local economy and contribute to a greener environment. If your designer or builder is opposed to using local suppliers but they claim to espouse to a green building philosophy, move it along, Cowboy. There are plenty of builders that will buy local and will respect the attention you have paid to reducing your carbon footprint.

Lastly—and this is tip is easy–have fun! A home remodel can be stressful. But just like any creative project, the more excited you are in the planning and building stages, the more joyous the result when you see your home ideas and design become a reality.